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THE

TRAVELS OF A HINDOO
TO VARIOUS PARTS OF
BENGAL AND UPPER INDIA.
VOL. I I.
BY
BHOLANAUTH CHUNDER,
MEMBER OF THE ASIATIC SOCIETY OF BENGAL.
London 1869.
Reproduced by
Sani H. Panhwar (California 2014)
CONTENTS OF VOL. II.
CHAPTER I.
Futtehpore Sicri. Its origin.Colossal gateway. Akbers palace. His
monster dice-board.Beerbuls house.Badshahi coshminars, or milestones.
Secundra.Akbers tomb. His greatness.Munee Begums tomb.Muttra.
Its antiquity.Accounts of, by Chinese travellers.The Kunsatila. Analogy of
incidents in the history of Christ and Krishna. The sentimental traveller at
Muttra.The Jumna below that city.Bisram-ghaut and its mela.Worship of
Bacchus and Greek colony at Muttra.Mahmoods description of that city.
Jain temple of the Paruckjees.The Katra, or market-place.Fort and
observatory of Rajah Jeysing.Massacre of the priests during a festival.The
Chowbays.A Chowbaynee.Muttra hospital and the Dhutoreeas.Activity of
trade. A Hindoo ruth, or carriage.Pastoral state of the country in former
times.Road from Muttra to Brindabun.Insecurity of pilgrimages to
Brindabun before the British rule. Brindabun Pandas. Sanctity of the place.
Ancient Vrij. Its desolation by the Islamite.Restoration of Brindabun by
Choitunya.Identification of the ancient Penates.Tour of the temples.
Govinjee.His temple.Young Bengals address to him. .. 1
CHAPTER II.
Other temples.Statue of Gopinath.Statue of Radha.The Jumna at
Brindabun.Kaisee-ghaut.Bukasoor-ghaut. Busliter-hurun tree. Ukoor-
ghaut and the origin of the car-festival.Kalya-dah ghaut and its legend.
Brahma-koond. Gopeswara.Hureedoss Gossain and Tansen.The Pooleen, or
Ras-mandala.Lallah Baboo.The Jain temple.Needhoo-bun.Monkeys at
Brindabun.Muddun Mohnna.Neekoonj-bun.Baka-Behary.Radha-
rumun.Doubtfulneas of the objects at Brindabun.Vrij-bashees and Vrij-
bashinees.The ex-Rajah of Hatras.Pundit Rangachari Swami. Vrij-bashee
antipathy against the Bangslees.The old man of ninety-siz.The Natuck, or
drama at Brindabun. Radha-koond.--Mount Gnverdhun and its legend.
Festival of Anna-cootSaraje Mulls tomb.Churun-paharee.Kammya-bun.
Burshana. Nanda-gaon. Gokul. Departure from Brindabun. .. 29
CHAPTER III.
Hatras.Coel-Allygurh.French rule in India.The runaway Bengalee
Baboo.Khoorjah.Boolundsber.First view of Delhi.Its antiquity.The
Rail, a great innovator. Apostrophe on the fallen state of Delhi.Chronological
mode of sight-seeing.Indraprastha, or Pooranah Killah. Its description in the
Mahabarat.Judishthirae Rajsuye. Negumbode-ghaut.Flies in Delhi.
Keela Kona mosque. Share Mundil.Old Delhi.The Iron Pillar and its
legends. Bulwan Deo.Lalkot.Rajah Pirthi-raj.Rai Pithora. The Bhoot-
Khana.Mahomedan conquest of India.Musjeed-i-Kootub-ul-Islam.The
Kootub Minar.The unfinished Minar.Altamashs tomb.Diving-wells in
Mehrowlie.Adam Khans tomb.Rupamati.Ruby Palace.Kilokeree.Alia
Durwaza, or Gate of Alla-ud-deen.Emam Zamin.Metcalfe House.Kootub
bungalow.Jogh Maya. Siri.Rooshun Chiragh.Hunumanjee.
Toglukabad. Mahomed Togluk.Mahomedabad.Jehan-Pannah.Leela
Boorj.Tir Boorj.Nizam-ud-deen Oulia.Poet Chuseros tomb.Princess
Jehanaras tomb.Mahomed Shahs tomb. Mirza Jehangires tomb.Jumaat
Khans mosque.Nizamud-deens well.Ferozabad, or the Kotila.Lat, or Staff
of Firoz Shah.Kushak Shikar.Kala Musjeed.Kirkhee. Sut-poolla Bund.
Firoz Shahs canal.Hous-Khass.Patan greatness of Delhi.Timoors
invasion.His battle-field. Collapse of Delhi.Beloli and Secunder Lodi.
Deen-pannah. Delhi-Shere-Shah Selimgurh. Abul Fazils description of
Delhi.The Patan and Mogul compared. Hoomayoons tomb.Hadjee
Begum.Dara.---Shekoh.Jehander Shah.Feroksere. Ruffeh-n-Dirjat.
Ruffeh-u-Dowlah.Alumgeer II.Bahadoor Shahs retreat.Hodson and the
Shazadaha.Burra-Pul. Arab-ke-serai. Mukburrah Khan Khanan.
Musjeed Esa Khan.Tagah Khan.Chowsut Khumha.Lal bungalow.Kala
Mahl.Jehanaras serai. Shah Jehannabad, or modern Delhi.The
culminating days of Mogul rule.Building of Shah Jehannabad.Its various
gates. Chandney Chowk.--Jumma Musjeed.Imam Hosseins. Manuscript of
the Koran.Ramazan at the Jumma Musjeed Fort or Palace of Shah Jehan.
Lahore-gate of the Fort. Nowbut-khanna. Dewanni-aum.Marble throne.
Great Mogul justice.Dewanni-khas.Tukt Taous, or Peacock Throne.
Berniers description of the Mogul court.Anecdote of coffee-drinking.The
Seraglio.The Hummaums, or baths. Tusbear Khannah, or the picture-
gallery.Mooti Masjeed. Shah Bang, or royal garden.Delhi-gate of the
palace.Shalimar gardens.Ali Merdans canal.Mogul houses and thatched
buildings in former Delhi.Aurungzebe and his age.Koomari Musjeed, or
Maiden Mosque.Roshenara gardens.Tomb of Zeebun-ul-Nissa.Mahomed
Shah and his times.Koodseah Baug.Tez Hazari Baug.Nadir Shah and his
invasion.Ronhun-a-Dowla.Khoonie Durwaza.Sack of Delhi.The Junter
Munter, or observatory.The Sufder Jung.Sadut Khan and Nizam-ul-
Moolk.Sufder Jung and Ghazi-ud-deen Khan.Madrissa, or College of Ghazi-
uddeen.Ahmed Shah Doorani.Rise and progress of the Mahrattas and
Jauts.Mahratta possession of Delhi.Final Mahratta and Mogul contest.
Gholam Kadir.Scindia and Perron.The Great Mogul in 1793, 1803, and
1824.His Zenana.Zinat Mahl Begum.Company Jehan and the Great
Mogul.Bahadoor Shah.Sir C. Metcalfe, Resident. Lord Ahmerst at Delhi.
Lord W. Bentinck there.Lord Ellenborough there.Lord Dalhousies abolition
of the pageant of the Great Mogul.State of the palace immediately before the
Mutiny. The ex-Great Mogul and his Begum under surveillance.Fate of the
last descendant of Timoor. The Moslem and his rule.Skinners Church.
William Fraser and Nawab Shums-dood-deen.Delhi College.The Magazine
and Lieutenant Willoughby.Mutiny at Delhi.Remains of the English
trenches.Hindoo Rao.Sammy House.Siege of Delhi.Blowing of the
Cashmere Gate.Brigadier Nicholson.Final capture of Delhi.Sir John
Lawrences prohibition of its demolition.The amnesty.Delhi under the
Moguls.Its population at various times.The Moguls in India.Mussulmans
and Hindoos.Delhi and Calcutta compared.Former and present opulence of
Delhi.Arts and merchandise there.Cheap living.Delhi Institute.Statues
of Jeimul and Puttoo.Portraits in the Museum.Archaeological collections.
The miraculous croft Government College.Intellectual progress of the
Delhiites.Queens Gardens.Delhi Canal.Festival of the Dewallee.Lalla
Choona Mull. Delhi-ka-Ludhoo.Delhi women.Omrao Sing.Departure
from Delhi.Grand Durbar of Sir John Lawrence at Agra.The Taj
illumination.The Viceroy and Native princes. The civilization of the East and
West compared. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 61
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TRAVELS OF A HINDOO.
CHAPTER I.
November 1. UP at dawn to proceed to Futtehpore Sicri. Indeed, fate must
have destined us to try all sorts of carriages, for the one that was to take us on
this morning had to be drawn by a camel. There was the gharry waiting at the
door with the head of the camel on a level with the head of the coachee, and
affording an oddity for a caricature in Punch. But it is the extreme obedience of
the animal, and the unflagging equableness of its pace, that must have always
recommended the camel in a long journey, and that fast wore out the prejudices
which had been at first felt against our utterly strange mode of travelling.
In passing by the artillery practice-ground, we were reminded of the tomb of the
Empress Jodh Bai that at one time stood there, ranking among the architectural
curiosities of Agra. But the walls and magnificent gateways that surrounded it,
had been first taken away and sold by a thrifty government, and then the tomb
itself was experimentalized upon for a practical lesson in mining. No palliation
can ever be urged to defend an outrage upon the deadfar less can any plea
extenuate the act of blowing up into the air the remains of a woman, no other
than Akbers favourite Sultana, to whom the people of India owed much of the
good they enjoyed under his long reign, by inspiring not only her husband, but
the most able Mahomedan minister that India has ever had, with feelings of
universal benevoknee.
From Agra to Futtehpore Sicri is twenty-four miles, or a good six hours drive in a
gharry. The whole way, says Fitch, resembled a market, as full as though a man
were still in a town. To confirm this, numerous mosques, tombs, and houses, all
more or less in ruins, still occur along the road. But much of the country appears
to have been brought under the plough, and turned into fields for rice crops and
the growth of other staples.
Futtehpore Sicri was something like the Windsor Palace of Akber. The town is
situated on the crest of a hill, rising abruptly from the plains to the height of a
hundred and fifty feet, and enclosed by a high stone rampart with battlements
and towers, five miles in circuit. The whole extent of this space in its present state
is one scene of desolation, strewed more or less with the ruins of broken columns,
walls, gateways, and porticoes, in huge fragments of stone and masonry.
Formerly, a great part of the surrounding low country had been laid out in an
extensive artificial lake, twenty miles of circumference, the dam of which is still
traceable in many parts. The hill at first was little frequented by men, and on its
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top lived in seclusion a hoary and holy fakir, under the name of Sheik Salim. But
few places in India have become famous under more romantic circumstances
than Futtehpore Sicri. The Emperor Akber was of an age verging upon thirty. He
was then monarch over the fairest provinces of Hindoostan Proper. But he was
unhappy on the score of having no child in his royal household. From physical
causes, little understood in that age, all his offspring died in their infancy. To
avert such domestic calamities, parents in all ages have either sought the aid of
charms, or the intercession of gods. In ancient Rome, the ladies wore the phallic
emblem to overcome their sterility. It was a mango-fruit, given by a Rishi to
Jarasindhs father, and eaten by his mother, which begot that famous Maghada
Prince of old. To this day, very often do barren Hindoo women, and those who
lose their children in the cradle, repair to the most reputed shrine of Shiva in
their neighbourhood, and by fasts and vigils insure his blessings for progeny. In
the place of gods, Mahomedan saints have dispensed similar favours to matrons
of their nation. By domestic afflictions, the greatest minds are so unnerved as to
follow the practices of the common herd. In his parental yearnings for a son,
Akber undertook, in conformity with the prevalent superstition of the day, a
pilgrimage to the shrine of Moinuddeen of Ajmere.
There is not a greater name in the category of Mahomedan sainthood than that of
Moinuddeen, who was a Persian of Cheest, but whose holy dust remains in
Ajmere. To make such a pilgrimage, it is a necessary condition, however, for its
efficacy, that the pilgrim should go on foot, and be accompanied by his wife.
Akber himself was a famous walker, who could travel on foot thirty or forty
miles in a day. But it was beyond the power of a woman to accomplish a journey
of three hundred and fifty miles at such a rate. It was, therefore, broken in easy
stages of three eon, or six miles a day. That the begum might not hurt her feet
carpets were spread on the road. That her purdanashin honour might not suffer,
kannats or cloth-walls were raised on each side of the way. High towers of burnt
bricks were also erected at each stage, to mark the places where they rested in
their imperial progress. In this manner did the royal pair proceed to the
destination of their journey. On arrival there, the Emperor made a supplication
to the saint, who at night appeared to him in his sleep, and recommended him to
go and entreat the intercession of the holy old man, who lived on the top of Sicri.
This was Sheik Salim, then ninety-six years of age. To him the Emperor came,
and he was assured that his Begum Jodh Bale would be delivered of a son, who
would live to a good old age. The Empress happened to be pregnant about the
time, and remained in the vicinity of the old mans hermitage, till the promised
boy was born, and called after the hermit, Mirza Salimthe future Jehangeer of
Indian history. They show you to this day the little roof of tiles, close to the
original little dingy mosque of the old hermit, where the Empress gave birth to
Jehangeer.
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By himself, the hoary Sheik was a sufficiently venerable-looking man, but he
now appeared doubly or trebly so in the eyes of Akber, who thereafter took up
his residence at Futtehpore Sicri, and founded a magnificent town upon its
height. By building, planting, and digging, the rock was converted into a scene
rivalling the splendours of Agra. Often, from the glare and dust of that city, did
Akber retire to this suburban retreat, to breathe purer air, and enjoy lovely rural
sights. Here were his vast stables, his hawking establishments, and the kennels of
his dogs. Here was the stud of his shikaree elephants. Here did he make himself
jovial with his favourites, and spend life in slippers. And here always he left his
harem when he set out on his expeditions. To this day the whole hill bears marks
of terraces, gardens, wells, cisterns, and palaces, which give a more melancholy
sense of desolation than ruins that appear to have mouldered away under the
natural touch of time.
The most striking object of all at Futtehpore Sicri is a colossal gateway, one
hundred and twenty feet in height, and the same in breadth. The span of the arch
is forty feet broad, by sixty feet high. In Sleemans opinion, the beholder is struck
with the disproportion between the thing wanted and the thing provided. There
seems to be something quite preposterous in forming so enormous an entrance
for a poor diminutive man to walk throughan entrance under which ships
might sail. The broad flight of stone stairs, twenty-four feet high, is perhaps the
grandest in the world. It is however getting fast dilapidatedthe annual rains
sweeping down the hill are here loosening a slab and there dislodging another.
On the right side of the entrance, is engraven on stone in large letters standing in
bas-relief, the following passage in Arabic: Jesus, on whom be peace, has said,
the world is merely a bridge; you are to pass over it, and not to build your
dwellings upon it.
Nor is the quadrangle in the interior a less grand affair, being a square of 575 feet
with majestic cloisters all round. In the centre of the quadrangle stands the tomb
of Sheik Salim, a beautiful modest little building, but much too costly over a
hermit. The material is all fine white marble, carved with a tasteful elegance. The
sarcophagus is enclosed in a latticed screen of marble, and inlaid with mother-of-
pearl. To the left is a large mosque, surmounted by three beautiful white marble
domes. The old Sheik lived to see the grand works completed. He died at the
notable age of 108 years.
The Palace of Akber. It is dilapidated, and mutilated, and reduced to a desert,
full of ruins, and fragments of pillars, domes, and porticoes, presenting a sad
picture of departed greatness. Near the Hati Darwaza a huge and massive
gatewayare seen two figures of astonishing elephants of the natural size,
carved in stone with admirable skill and truth.
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Not far from this is a tower, nearly fifty feet high, built, according to local report,
of elephants tusks, but actually of composition, moulded and enamelled into a
resemblance of those natural substances. It is much to be deplored that such
skilful arts of the Indians have perished. There is also in existence a beautiful
octagonal pavilion, said to have been the emperors private study. It has three
large windows filled with an excellent tracery of white marble, and all its
remaining wall is carved with trees, bunches of grapes, and the figures of
different kinds of birds and beasts, of considerable merit in execution. By
Aurungzebes bigotry the birds and beasts have been disfigured, as savouring of
idolatry. Shade of Aurungzebe! why did you spare the trees, when they too are
worshipped by many men ?
Nothing is so great a curiosity in Futtehpore Sicri as the raised marble floor,
which Akber used as a dice-board, while women were his counters. The platform
is paved in squares of different colours, after the fashion of a dice-board. Here, as
legends tell, was played a royal game of goose, termed purcheesee, the pieces in
which were thirty-two ladies of the zenana, sixteen on each side; the emperor sat
as umpire; the nobles stood as spectators; two favoured lords who had been
selected as combatants, manoeuvred their forces with all the skill and attention
of dice-players, and the victor carried of the thirty-two damsels.
1
This is
unparalleled in history. The Ranee of Ravana invented Chess to beguile the
martial propensities of her lord. The Pandava princes staked away their wife,
and the throw of the dice made her the property of their rivals. Runjeet Sing
challenged General Ventura to seduce away a Cashmerian girl from his zenana,
promising to put no obstacles in the way,and in eight and forty hours the
lovely Lotus (the girls name) was transplanted from her royal lovers garden to
the Italians. But this game of Akber can be accounted for only by the well-
known Mahomedan saying, that women have no souls.
Our fathers and grandfathers, whose Pierian spring of knowledge is the Persian,
still quote many of the witty sayings of Beerbul, which amused the court of
Akber. But the impression that is now abroad is that he is as much a myth as the
Giaffir of Caliph Haroun Al Raschid. Those who want to have their doubts
removed about his authenticity may come and see a small but richly ornamented
1
The following account of Akbers Pachisi-board is from an old Agra periodical: The game is usually
played by four persons, each of whom is supplied with four wooden or ivory canes, which are called
gots, and are of different colours for distinction. Victory consists in getting these four pieces safely
through all the squares of each rectangle into the vacant place in the centre,the difficulty being, that the
adversaries take up in the same way as pieces are taken at backgammon. Moving is regulated by throwing
cowries, whose apertures falling uppermost or not, affect the amount of the throw by certain fixed rules.
But on this Titanic board of Akbers wooden or ivory gots would be lost altogether. Sixteen girls,
therefore, dressed distinctivelysay four in red, four in blue, four in white. four in yellowwere trotted up
and down the squares, taken up by an adversary, and put back at the beginning again; and at last, after
many difficulties, four of the same colour would find themselves giggling into their depattas together in the
middle space, and the game was won.
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house, which is pointed out to have been the residence of Beerbul in Futtehpore
Sicri.
November 2. To Secundra. On the road to that place are still met with a few of
the Badshahi coshminars, or milestones. In form, they are solid circular stone
obelisks, little larger than our usual milestones. The coshminars were put up to
mark the ancient Mogul royal road in India, at the distance of every two miles.
Near each of them was stationed a watch-tower, to afford security to travellers.
The road was two hundred and fifty leagues from Agra to Lahore. Trees, twenty
or thirty years old, bad been transported from the nearest woods on the backs of
elephants, and planted to shade the way. There were serais to halt for the
emperors in their royal progresses, and wells at frequent intervals for the drink
of passengers as well as for the irrigation of crops. Tavernier often safely
traversed this road with his diamonds. Bernier too, bears a testimony to its state
of efficiency. Fanciful as is the description of Lulls Rookhs progress, it has
enough of truth to give an idea of the imperial route of the Moguls. It is not very
improbable, that on such a highway, guarded by patrols almost within bail of
each other, a purse of gold may have been exposed and found untouched on the
next day, to justify the boasts of Oriental historians.
The name of Secundra is probably from Secunder Lodi. The best part of the town
is now a wide-extended scene of ruin, telling the mournful tale of the Rebellion.
Only a solitary man was ploughing the fields alongside the road, and two little
boys came runing on their nimble legs from a grove at the rattling noise of our
gharry. In Secundra sleeps the Great Akber his last sleep of mortality. The
quadrangle of his mausoleum is enclosed by high embattled walls, to break the
monotony of which there are four octagonal minarets at the four corners, and
four colossal gateways on the four sides. The space within is laid out in walks,
flower-beds, orangeries, and groves of mango. There is the graceful tamarind as
well as the mourning cypress to diversify the scene. It was a lovely morn, and the
spot was delightful with verdure. The branches of the lime and citron were
pendant with crimson fruits. The shrubberies exhaled a sweet perfume, and the
silence brooding over the place had a solemn effect. The mausoleum is quite a
sovereign building in its magnitude and splendour. There seems to be stamped
on it that air of tranquil majesty, which so much distinguished Akber in his
character as well as in external appearance. It is as if the architect has exerted his
utmost skill in the work of impressing the emperors features upon itof making
it the medium to reflect an image of his person, and possibly a type of his mind.
The noble structure at once calls up before us a strongly-built and stalwart man,
which his Majesty had been with a very agreeable expression of countenance and
captivating manners. The building is four stories high, on a pyramidal
principleeach story diminishing in circumference and height towards the top
till at the apex it terminates in a terrace of the utmost grandeur.
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The towers at the corners rise in tiers, crowned with the most elegant of cupolas.
They are many of them enamelled, and the number of the principal towers is
fourteen, to correspond with the fourteen soubahs of Akbers empire. They are
said to have had a name each bestowed upon them, after the soubah they were
meant to represent. Under this view, the mausoleum furnishes to posterity a
miniature of the court and empire of Akber. The first and farthest towers stand
for the remote soubahs of Bengal, Cashmere, Guzerat, and Scinde. The next
higher ones are those that were in a closer proximity to Agra. The terrace itself
re-presents the seat of the Emperor. It takes a delightful hold on the imagination
to view the building in this lightthat we were told to do by the Mussulman
attendants acting as our ciceroni. In death, as in life, Akber is seen to hold his
state. There, by a stretch of the fancy, may you see in those graceful towers,
which are meant for the soubahs, and the soubahs for their soubandars,Aziz,
the Khani Khanan, the Rajah Maun Sing, the Rajah Toiler Mull, and the other
lieutenants of the empire, to surround their royal master, each in his respective
gradewhile, on the terrace above, as on his throne, sits Akber presiding over
them all. Herein lies the secret charm of this superb tomb. The works of art are
perfect only when to them is imparted a meaningwhen upon them is
imprinted the reflex of an object to speak itself in a mute eloquence to the
spectators. The imperial sepulchre designed by Akber, and completed by
Johangeer, is admirably con strutted to perpetuate a durbar-scene of the Great
Mogul.
The square terrace on the top has the most princely magnificence. Nothing but
beautiful white marbles enter into its composition. The sides are built up in walls
of light and exquisite lattice-screens of the same material. Through their
apertures, the meandering Jumna breaks in upon the sight. The inscriptions
which run all round the frieze are panegyrical transcripts from the Akbernameh
of Abul Fazil. In the middle of the terrace is the Emperors cenotaph of polished
white marble, carved with elegant flower-wreaths, and the name and titles of
Akber in Arabic. The slab is also beautifully inscribed with the Now Nubbey
Namthe ninety names or attributes of God from the Koran. Formerly, the
terrace was hung over with a gorgeous awning embroidered with gold and
jewels. It was too rich a temptation for the Jaut, who took it away in the days of
his ascendancy. Since then, the terrace has remained open, communicating with
the overhanging firmament, and letting in the light of its luminaries. It is as if the
eye of the Divinity looks down upon the man, whose reign was a blessing to
mankind.
Inside the galleries and cloisters, the gloss of the plastering is so excellent as to
vie with the polish of marbles. In places it is defaced with scratches of names by
those who have been too fond of recording their visit. There was one name
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which had been written in huge English, with charcoal. The characters had
become faint and illegibleso the poor man, who had thought fit to attach
himself to a mighty body and plough with him the vast ocean of time, like
barnacles on the hull of the Great Eastern, has been at last doomed to that very
oblivion from which he was so anxious to have himself rescued.
Through a long narrow passage, gradually inclining towards a deep vault under
the centre lies the way to the actual tombstone which covers the remains of the
mighty dead. The subterranean chamber is dimly lighted, and filled with that
silence, how profound, in which the least noise startles echo to break forth into
the most solemn reverberations. The tomb is of the finest white marble, plain and
unadorned, as all true greatness loves to be, and as Akber was wont to appear in
life amidst surrounding splendour. It exactly corresponds in position with the
cenotaph that is on the terrace above. There appears on the unornamented slab
no other inscription than that of the name and titles of the Emperor. The large
massy sarcophagus measures the length of the tall and stalwart man that Akber
had been. One feels the hallowed spot as impregnate with the spirit of his
departed majesty,and no man can approach and stand by his grave without a
respectful homage to his manes, and solemn reflections on the ultimatum of
human greatness. Considering all the circumstance of time and place, says
Sleeman, Akber has always appeared to me among sovereigns what Shakespeare
was among poets; and feeling as a citizen of the world, I reverenced the marble
slab that covers his bones more, perhaps, than I should that over any sovereign
with whose history I am acquainted.
Lord Bacon thought Julius Caesar to be the most complete character in all history.
Had he lived in our age, it is likely that he would have expressed that opinion in
favour of Akber, one of those prodigies of nature which appear on the earth at
the interval of many centuries. The Judishthira of Hindoo history has been
immortalized rather as the ideal of a philosophical prince, than an actual model
king for the imitation of sovereigns. The fame of Akber recalls to mind the pod of
musk which his father broke and distributed among his followers, to make the
customary presents on the birth of a son, with the fond wish of a parent that the
boys fame might be diffused through the world like the odour of that perfume.
In the language of the poet, his thoughts were heard in heaven, and his wishes
fulfilled beyond the utmost expectations.
Only two old Mussulmans now attend upon the monarch, at whose behest a
hundred thousand swords had often leapt into the air from their scabbards. The
duty of these men is to read the daily prayers over the dead and to show the
cheragh at nightto light the lamps in a sepulchre. Their grey beards are well
suited to the gravity of their task, and, as ciceroni of the place, they possess the
necessary fund of intelligence.
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In the outer verandah are two small sepulchres, of Akbers two grandsons, who
died in their infancy. They seem to keep company with their grandfather, who
was so very fond of children. Beyond the quadrangle lie the tombs of omrahs
and officers, who, serving in life, at last gathered themselves to sleep round their
beloved sovereign.
In 1805, two British dragoons found comfortable lodgings in this immense
mausoleum. The horses used to be tethered in the splendid garden. The troopers
ate, and slept, and pursued their sports among the tombs. Could the mighty men
of old have started into life, they would have been amazed to hear sounds and
behold sights most strange and marvellous to their ears and eyesthey would
have wondered to see the descendants of those who had danced attendance
upon them with bribes of diamonds for the favour of a firman to erect a little
factory turned into masters of the land, and arbiters of the fate of their own
descendants. It is but justice, however, to the men, that though they were rough
dragoons, unused to the mood of relishing or reverencing works of art, they had
the English feeling of respect for the dead, and offered no violence to the sanctity
of the tombleaving the marble slabs and ornamented niches, the carvings and
mosaic pavements, and the cupolas and minarets, uninjured and entire.
Three days ago, there had come hither a party of gentlemen to amuse themselves
in exercises upon a subject fully worth photographing. The Seem& NI, by which
name the tomb is commonly known, does not receive from travellers the same
justice that is often done to the Taj. No doubt, the latter has by far a decided
superiority, but not so as to throw the other entirely into the shade. The two have
their own respective merits. In the Secundra, the emperor is conjured up as
standing in a serene majesty, with all the paraphernalia of state about him. In the
Taj, is contemplated the image of a superlative beauty, angelic and undying in
her charms.
The homage that is paid to greatness seems to be as much a law in the moral
world as the attraction of smaller bodies by larger ones is a law in the physical
world. Indeed, something like a fascination holds a man to the spot where sleeps
the greatest monarch of all history alone in his glory. The idea of vanquishing
time by a tomb, says Chateaubriand, of surviving generations, manners, laws,
and ages, by a coffin, could not have sprung from a vulgar mind. By it, the dead
makes himself a contemporary with the generations of future ages. Though it is
now two hundred and fifty years since the mortal remains of Akber have been
consigned to the grave, and that a heavy mass of marble presses upon them with
its weight, still he may be fancied as surviving to this day, and filling the spot
with his august presence. But the solitude and stillness of death are around
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himand leaving his Majesty to sleep out undisturbed his sleep of eternity, we
took our last look at the mausoleum, and made our exit from the spot.
Munee Begums Tomb. There was in Akbers harem a European lady of the
name of Munee Begum. Probably she had been forwarded by the Government of
Goa on the request of the Emperor,or that the Catholic Padres of that city
thought the most useful missionary who could be sent to Agra would be a
handsome woman of their race and faith to win over the Emperor to Christianity
by the persuasion of fair lips. The Emperor survived his Lusitanian mistress, and
showed his affection, for her memory by erecting over her remains a handsome
tomb at Secundra. In this tomb was located for many years the Press of the
Church Mission Society, and its premises afforded shelter to 300 orphans in the
famine of 1838.
In proceeding from Secundra to Muttra, the most careless observer cannot fail to
mark the indications of a poorer country than any left behind. The region
spreads for the most part a dreary expanse under the sky, unenlivened by any
grazing cattle, or rich sheets of cultivation, or a rapid succession of happy little
village-communities. There are few of those umbrageous topes, which enrich the
prospect of an alluvial land with their luxuriant boughs and foliage. The soil is
partially of a sandy nature, and all herbage has a stunted growth. The crop on
the ground was a decided failurethe thin sallow stalks standing several inches
apart each from its neighbour. This is certainly to be attributed more to the
unusual drought this season than to other causes. But the striking local changes
cannot be mistaken to announce the beginning of the country, which further
westward has terminated in a wide sea of sandnever so pithily described as in
the memorable words of Shere Shah, that he had nearly lost the empire of India
for a handful of millet.
Nor less does the traveller happen to find himself among a race of people,
differing from the other Indians as widely in their moral as in their external
characteristicsthe transition of a country being never without a transition of its
people. Next to the Bengalee, the Beharee, the Khottah, and the Doabee, is the
turn of the Jaut, whose Hindoo or Getic origin is yet an undecided question. But
all accounts agree in representing him as having originally settled on the banks
of the Indus, and subsequently emigrated to the banks of the Chumbul and
Jumna. It has been his lot to live always under an ungenial climate, and to
combat with the sterility of a sandy soil. He is, therefore, a marauder as much by
necessity as by his antecedents. Physical causes sufficiently account for the ethnic
variety and dissimilarity of the habits and customs of the Jaut, which are
erroneously thought to be the characteristics of his non-Hindoo origin. The
Moguls difficulty became the Jauts opportunity, and the latter rose to that
wealth and power which gradually brought on his fusion into the Hindoo
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nationality. He has yet, however, many of his original peculiarities to single him
out from the rest of his nation. The people of the Doab have for the most part
well-formed features. The rude Jaut has a coarse, mean physiognomy.
The thinness of cultivation is always an evidence of a thin population. In the
Doab, the calamity of a famine is yet looming in the distance. But in the country
hereabouts, the distress has already made its appearance. The roads have become
insecure after nightfall. More than one instance of solitary pedestrians having
met with mishap has occurred.
Halfway on the road-side stood a little solitary hut, before which we stopped the
gharry to procure some water. The owner was not at home to answer to our call.
There came out a little lad at the door to hear us, while a woman sat peeping
from a corner at our strange faces. On making known our errand, she hastily got
up to fetch us a loath of water. The woman was healthy and stout. But the sore
red eyes of the boy told of his suffering from ophthalmiathe common disease
of a dry climate and soil, generally afflicting children. There was another little
boy, hardly a twelvemonth old, whom the woman took out from her breast. The
poor little thing could scarcely open his eyes, and, unable to stand any sunlight,
gave a scream.
In a tally-ho and four were passing a party of ladies and gentlemen towards
Agra. It entered into the head of one of the gentlemen to play a prank of big-
folkism, by waving his long whip over our companion-gharry.
Encountered a body of itinerant Chowbay-Pandas from Muttra, on the look-out
for pilgrims. No sooner did the approach of our gharry betray us to the Hindoos
than they gave us chase, and kept running along by the side of our carriage. In
vain we feigned ourselves from Christiangunge, and assumed sham names to
make them give up their pursuit. Rather the humour gave them a zest to persist
in it the more.
The suburbs of Muttra were announced in the distance by the thickening belt of
topes and other plantations that usually surround the site of a human abode. The
cantonments, scattered over an extensive plain, next caught the eye,and then
the town itself was full in sight. From reminiscences of Mogul antiquity, we are
now to enter the region of Hindoo antiquity. A reader of the nineteenth
centurywho is a thorough practical man, and keeps a profession little
connected with the indulgence of a classical humour, and is always under a
tugging at his heart-strings by wife and childrenturns pale at the word
antiquity. He has had enough of plunging after plunging into it, and would fain
rest awhile from duckings into a sea without bottom and shorein which he has
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fished long, but has not found any pearl.
2
But we are not exploring either an El
Dorado or the Source of the Nile, and have not to tell of any antres vast, or of
hills whose heads do touch heaven, or of cannibals, and anthropophagi, and men
whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders,to hear all which not only a
Desdeuiona, but many mustachioed men would seriously incline. India has been
explored, and examined, and written upon, till the subject has been left
threadbare. In the age also that we live in, things go on so regulated by a
clockwork Government as to leave no margin for any moving accidents by flood
and field,or hair-breadth escapes from the mouth of a tiger or the hands of a
brigand. The reader must either bid us good-bye, or give up his horror of another
dip into antiquity. But business always before pleasure: one of our first inquiries
was for the shelter of a roof and a breakfast. The day was near noon; the road
had begrimed us with dust; the sun was penetrating to our very boneswhat
has a man to do with sentiment, when all his thoughts are bent upon a bath and
breakfast? The native Sub-Assistant Surgeon in charge of the Muttra Dispensary
was a Baboo from Bengal. To him we repaired, and he was glad to receive us
under his roof, and entertain us with every hospitality. Not more was the East
India Company indebted to sons of Esculapius for their first factories in India,
than we for our breakfasts and dinners in our tour to the North-West.
Muttra boasts almost as high an antiquity as any city in India. It is the Sursena of
Valmiki and Menu, the Methora of Strabo and Arrian, and the Mo-thou-lo of
Hwen Thsang. Long before Kunsa reigned or Krishna was born, Muttra was a
jungly tract occupied by the aboriginal Dwaitas, who were probably the
ancestors of the Maim and Meenas of our day. Their king, contemporary with
Rama, was Lubbun. This Dwaita king must have been a more substantial power
than a Santhal chieftain of the present day, to defy the authority of the great
Aryan monarch of the Solar House. But he fell in the war with an enemy of
superior genius and resources, and his kingdom was annexed to form a part of
ancient Aryarerta. It was at this early period, that Satrughuna, the brother who
had been intrusted by Rama with the expedition against Lubbun, first laid the
foundations of the city, which stands on our map under the name of Muttra. In a
subsequent age, there ruled here a king called Surathe father of Koonti and
Vasudeb, from whom the people of his kingdom became known under the name
of Sursenii, and his capital under that of Sursena. The next account of Muttra is
blended with the histories of Kunsa and Krishna, whose names are so familiar to
every Hindoo from his boyhood.
That the great Brahminical city of Muttra, and the sacred birth-place of Krishna,
had once and for many centuries been a heretic Buddhistical city, is a fact known
to not a single Vishnuvite, and which would never be believed by a Chowbay in
2
Firdousis satirical description of Mahmoods Court of Ghizni.
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his five senses as authentic. In the time it had been visited by Fa Hian there were
seven great stupas or towers containing the relics of Buddha and his principal
disciples, and twenty monasteries with three thousand monks. Fa Hian and his
companions halted at Muttra for a whole month, during which time the clergy
held a great assembly and discoursed upon the law. After the meeting they
proceeded to the stupa of Sariputra, to which they made an offering of all sorts of
perfumes, and before which they kept lamps burning the whole night. In Hwen
Thsangs time, the number of towers and monasteries was the same, but that of
the monks had been reduced to 2000. The king and his ministers were all zealous
Buddhists. The three great fasts of the year were celebrated with much pomp and
ceremony. There were processions carrying flying streamers and stately
parasols,while the mists of perfumes and the showers of flowers darkened the
sun and moon. In the midst of all this Buddhism, the number of Brahminical
temples was five only. It is not told whether the gods worshipped in those
temples were images of Vishnu or of Krishna, or emblems of Shiva, to enable us
to know whether the modified worship of Vishnu in the character of Krishna had
already commenced. But though Buddhism was apparently so flourishing, it
must be considered to have really begun to wane, and that the zeal of the people
of Muttra must have lessened considerably, when in the interval of time from Fa
Hians visit to that of Hwen Thsang, the body of monks had been so materially
reduced as to two-thirds of their number. Indeed, that secession of the Buddhists
had commenced, which gradually culminating in their downfall, made Puranism
flourish in a progressive ratio, and covered the face of Muttra by the tenth
century with Brahminical temples popping from all sides.
Just at the entrance of the town, is a long and lofty earthen mound, resembling
the spur of a low, diminutive hill. The vast and solid mass, overgrown with grass
and herbage, wears the usual venerable appearance of an ancient pile of ruins.
Fragments of stone and brick protrude from its surface, as if struggling for
resurrection. Perched on the summit is a small white unpretending temple,
embosomed in a grove of trees. The mound excites not a little curiosity, and it is
pointed to the pilgrim as the Kunsa-tila, or the ruins of the abode of Kunsa. The
mansion of that ancient Raja is described in the Vishnu Pooran to have been a
palatial building, enclosing ample court-yards and having high-storied
apartments for the women,a building, with a vignette of which it is now
attempted to illustrate the page of a Bengalee Almanack. Judging from the
dimensions of the huge pile, the tradition which identifies it with Kunsas abode
seems to have an air of plausibility. But in truth, the mound represents the
vestiges of one of the seven famous Buddhistical stupas in a subsequent age.
There are six other such mounds around Muttra, all referring now to Brahminical
divinities, but which are unmistakably Buddhist. Under the common impression
of its being the ruins of Kunsas mansion, the Chowbays or the priests of Krishna,
put up a figure of that tyrant on the summit of the mound, and annually, on the
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ninth day of the moon in Kartick, they vent their wrath against him by a mimic
assault of his castle by some hundreds of robust church militants, with long clubs
bound with iron rings, and by burning his effigy.
As the birth-place of Krishna, Muttra is as sacred to the Vishnuvites as
Bethlehem is to the Christians. But in the same manner that Christian pilgrims to
Bethlehem are shown a grotto to represent the house of Joseph and Mary, a
marble star, as the star that conducted the Magi to the house where Christ was
born,and a recess hewn out of the rock, as the manger where he was laid upon
straw; the Hindoo pilgrim to Muttra has to see no dark cell as the apartment
occupied by Vasudeb and Devaki, no crypt to indicate the hallowed spot of
Krishnas nativity, and no door or window as the one through which he was
carried away to Gokul.
There is much that has a striking coincidence in the history of Herod and Kunsa.
The Governor of Judaea had been alarmed by the birth of an infant, destined to
rule for ever over the house of Jacob, and so he sent forth and slew all the male
children that were in Beth-lehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years
old and under. In the same manner, it had been foretold to Kunsa that a nephew
would be born to him who would slay him and put an end to his house, and so
he held his sister and brother-in-law in perpetual imprisonment, and one by one
destroyed their seven children, till the eighth, who was the promised Avatar,
was born, and saved by a miraculous escape: Not only the names of Krishna and
Christ bear so great a similarity to each other, but many of their adventures and
miracles seem dictated by causes not less analogous. The presumption is strong,
that one of the two religions has been founded upon the otherthat the
Vishnuvites, in all probability, have borrowed their story from the primitive
Christian emigrants to India, and, adapting it with variations and classic
ornaments of their own, have built upon it a creed antagonistic to
Shivaismpreserving however this grand line of demarcation between the Bible
and the Bhagbut, that while the religion of Christ appeals to the nobler faculties
of man, the religion of Krishna appeals to those which the more easily take in
people.
In Muttra, the sentimental traveller is apt to neglect the present about him, and to
indulge in the pleasing recollections of antiquitythe illusions of poetry and
fable which lend a charm to the spot. He treads here upon the soil trod by
Ugrasena and Okoor. He tries by a little stretch of his imagination, to recognize
Subja in a homely maid passing the streets. He meets a washing-man, and fancies
him to be the descendant of the individual who furnished Krishna and Buldeo
with becoming clothing to appear at the court of Kunsa. This Dwaita prince had
overthrown the Sena dynasty, and re-established the aboriginal domination at
Muttra. It was the mission of the Lord of the mace and discus to lay the proud
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usurper low, and to seat himself upon thethrone of his ancestors. Time has left
no trace of the palace, the gate of which had been besieged by Nanda and
Jushoda, by the Gopis of Brindabun, and by the swains of Gokoolall making a
piteous application to the porters for admission to behold once more their
beloved Krishna, elevated from a shepherd to a sovereign. Jushoda outdoes
Rachel in lamentation and bitter weepingJeremiah must yield the palm of
pathos to Bopdeva.
The Jumna below Muttra presents in this season a low shallow stream, fordable
at many places. Had it been in the cold weather, or in summer, none would have
doubted the story of Vasudebs wading through the stream with the new-born
Krishna in his arms. There would have needed then no jackal to precede him to
show the way across the stream. But Krishna was born in August, during the
height of the rains. The day also was the eighth day of the moon,one usually
rainy in the meteorologic calendar. The Jumna then gets swollen nearly thirty
feet high, rolling with a current which cuts a reed in twain, to quote a common
native saying. Vasudeb could scarcely have stemmed the force of such a current
with a babe in his arms, unless he had been one of those sturdy and expert
swimmers who are seen to drift down the Ganges or Bhagi-ruttee, with a pail of
milk or ghee on their heads, and a bundle of reeds in one of their arm-pits to
keep them afloat.
Some three or four miles off, over on the other side of the river, was seen a high
column of smoke almost to touch the horizon. Doubtless, such a column as this
rose from the enormous pile of faggots collected by the swains of Gokool to burn
the corpse of the haggard Pootna, and which met the eye of Nanda, then come to
Muttra to pay in his kist of revenue to his liege lord, Kunsa.
In Muttra, the ghauts are light and gracefulin Benares, they are severe and
simple. The red sand-stone temples overhanging the ghauts are highly wrought
and ornamented. What time, and skill, and labour, have been expended in
reducing rough blocks to polished shafts, in adjusting their proportions, in
carving their rich capitals, and rearing them where they stand! The sun was
beating with intense heat, and we sat down on the steps of a shaded ghaut,
quietly to smoke a cigar. There were men bathing before us in the poetic Juana,
and taking up mud to smear it on their foreheads, and saying their prayers in
waist-deep water. Parties of women, with pretty faces and well-developed
persons, came to fetch water in ghurras poised on their heads. Milkmaids came
over in small crafts from the villages along the river, to sell the pro-duct of their
dairies like the Gopis of old. But the wives and daughters of the modern Gowalas
are far from being light, fairy creatures to captivate and enchant you, though you
had all the sentiment about their famed ancestresses in your head.
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The most sacred spot in all Muttra is the Bisramghaut, where Krishna and Buldeo
rested from their labours of slaying Kunsa, and dragging his corpse to the river-
side. They had also washed their bodies and clothes at this ghaut; in imitation of
which the pilgrim also has to perform his ablutions and devotions here. But the
ghaut abounds in shoals of tortoises, from which the pilgrim is in danger of
being bitten at the toes. There is no broad flight of steps properly to deserve the
name of a. ghaut. The top, however, is crowned with many beautiful temples and
shrines. It Makes a gay scene every evening to perform here the vespers in
honour of the Jumna. Large crowds assemble to witness the ceremony. The spot
is illuminated. Bells and cymbals ring on every side. The women shower flowers
from the high balconies, and incense is burned loading the air with a sweet
perfume. In the Bisramghaut is annually held a great bathing mela, called Jumna-
ka-Boorkee, on which occasion the gathering of men from Behar, Bundlecund, and
other remote parts of India, exceeds more than a hundred thousand. The festival
takes place on the second day of the new moon in November, when a bath at this
ghaut is said to enable a man to escape the purgatory of Yama, the king of the
infernal regions. The crowd, the noise, and the rush of men and women for a dip
in the stream, are singular to contemplate. The police is stationed to prevent
accidents. One lad had been drowned, but he was fortunately rescued from a
watery grave. The thick shoals of tortoises always swarming at the ghaut happen
to be scared away from it on that day. To the Chowbays, the occasion proves a
great harvest of gain. The pittances offered to the images of Krishna and Buldeo
at the ghaut sometimes amount to thirty or forty thousand rupees.
3
The Greeks saw the Hindoos worship Bacchus in ancient Methora. This may,
possibly, refer to the curious Greek-clad statue, which, with his portly carcass,
drunken lassitude, and vine-wreathed forehead, is considered by our
antiquarians to be the well-known figure of the wine-bibbing Silenus. The
statue was discovered along with a Bacchic altar, in 1836. It does not appear
probable to have been worshipped by the Buddhist Hindoos of olden time,and
the way in which the question of its presence can most reasonably be solved, is to
assume the residence of a body of Bactrian Greek sculptors who found
employment for their services amongst the tolerant Buddhists of the great city of
Muttra about the beginning of the Christian era. Long has any Buddhist or Greek
god ceased to be worshipped in Muttra. The most favourite local deity now is
Krishna, who is adored in nearly all the temples abounding in the town which
owns his exclusive jurisdiction. Shiva has no right, title, or interest in this city. He
has only one temple dedicated to him, and appears to have been permitted to
reside much as a foreigner holding a passportas an interloper.
3
During a second tour we were an eye-witness of this mela.
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From the accounts of the Chinese travellers, it would appear that the Buddhist
establishments in this city must have been of considerable importance and
grandeur. But the ascendancy which in the fulness of time Brahminism gained
over Buddhism seems to have given a greater prosperity and splendour to
Muttra than had met the eyes of Fa Hian or Hwen Thsang. This may safely be
concluded from the memorable words which have been left on record by
Mahmood of Ghizni Here there are a thousand edifices as firm as the faith of the
faithful, most of them of marble, besides innumerable temples; nor is it likely
that this city has attained its present condition but at the expense of many
millions of dinars ; nor could. such another be constructed under a period of two
centuries. This high admiration is a valuable testimony to the excellence of
ancient Hindoo architecture, to which but little justice is done in our age. The
passage is also illustrative of the civilization and splendour of Indian life in the
eleventh century. It is not without reason, therefore, that Colonel Tod remarks,
that if the traveller had journeyed through the Courts of Europe, and taken the
route by Byzantium, through Ghizni, to Delhi, Kanouge, and Anhulwara, how
superior in all that constitutes civilization would the Rajpoot princes have
appeared to him!in arts immeasurably so; in arms by no means inferior.
Mahmood is said to have spared the temples either through admiration of their
beauty, or on account of the difficulty of destroying them. But there is no
monument, or column, or ruin of any kindnothing, absolutely nothing, which
has been left behind to recall an image of those times. The truth is that during the
twenty days that he tarried here, he sacked and burned the place, and rifled the
temples of their gods. There were five golden idols whose eyes were of rubies,
valued at 50,000 dinars, or two lace and fifty thousand rupees. A sixth golden
image weighed one thousand one hundred and twenty pounds, and was
decorated with a sapphire weighing three and a half pounds. Besides these
images, there were above one hundred idols of silver, which loaded as many
camels. The Buddhists had no such rich idolstheir statues were all of stone or
copper, though some of them had been very colossal figures.
The pictorial Muttra of the tenth and eleventh centuries having been reduced to
ashes, lay in obscurity for many a century. No notice of it has been taken by
Baber, though he lived in close proximity at Agra. The modern town seems to
have grown up from the time that Vishnuvism received a new impulse from
Choitunya, and his followers enjoyed toleration under the mild government of
Akber and of his two successors. It is beautifully situated along the bank of the
Jumna. Contiguous to Muttra are those great sandstone quarries which, for ages
past, have furnished materials to the architects of Upper India for building the
houses, shops, temples, and ghauts of its principal cities. The main street is a
feature of great beauty. This town, too, must have cost to build several millions
of dinars, and is inhabited by bankers and traders of princely wealth. The ancient
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orthodoxy of the people has not suffered a jot of abatement. But the wealth and
splendour of old Muttra must have far exceeded the wealth and splendour of the
present city. There is not a single idol of gold, with eyes of rubies and sapphires
that we saw in any of the temples, though we had visited nearly some twenty of
them.
The finest building in the town is that of Paruckjee, the richest banker of the day
in India. He was Scindias treasurer, and retired from service with two crores. He
is now reputed to possess nearly ten crores. By faith a Jain, he has, in front of his
house, dedicated a temple to god Dwarkanath of that sect. The lime is
magnificent, and remarkable for highly-wrought carvings on stone. In the
building, which is supported by a triple row of pillars, and situated in the centre
of the square court, we saw a respectable assembly sit squatting at an
entertainment of music and song. The room occupied by the god is richly
decorated. Its ceilings are silver-gilt. The image itself is apparently all goldthe
figure being life-sized, and standing with closed eyes in the act of meditation.
Buddhism, in one shape or another, seems to have always existed in Muttra
maintaining its ground under the modified form of Jainism, after the votaries of
Sakya Muni had lost their footing. Tavernier saw in his time at Muttra a hospital
for apes, which was unquestionably an institution of the Jains. In our age, the
wealthy establishment of Paruckjee resembles a Buddhist monastery of the olden
times.
The Katra, or market-place, towards the south-west of the town, is an oblong
enclosure, about eight hundred feet in length by upwards of six hundred and
fifty feet in breadth. In the midst of this square stands the Jummah Musjeed of
Aurungzebe, on a large mound nearly thirty feet high. From the remains of
Buddhist pillars, railings, figures, and inscriptions, discovered in clearing out a
well at this spot, it is believed to have been the site of the famous monastery
which was founded by the holy Upagupta during the reign of Asoca. The
Brahmins overthrew the building of their rivals, and made use of its materials in
erecting the temple of their god Kasara Deva, or Keso Ray. Judging from the
dimensions still traceable, this temple appears to have been one of the largest in
India. In its turn, the great Hindoo temple was overturned, and on its
foundations was raised the mosque of the Mahomedans. Owing to many
dangerous cracks in the roofs and walls, the mosque has long been disused.
Nothing but the ruins are now seen of the old fort of Muttra, built by Rajah
Jeysing on an elevated site on the bank of the river. The observatory erected by
that scientific prince on the roof of one of the apartments is also in a ruinous state.
From the fact of this observatory, it is to be inferred that Muttra must formerly
have been a seat of learning, which it has ceased to be in our day. The decay of
the fort and observatory may be attributed to the pillage and massacre which
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Muttra suffered at the hands of Ahmed Shah Durani, just a century ago. The city
was surprised during the height of a religious festival, and the unoffending
votaries were slaughtered with the same indifference and barbarity, that, in our
day, left only one European and two Natives out of an army of 13,000, to tell of
its sad end by the treachery of Akber Khan. In the words of Tieffenthaler, Muttra
is a populous city, abounding in wealthy inhabitants. In this city, and in another
town called Brindabun, the Affghans practised great cruelties, and displayed
their hatred of idols and idolaters, burning houses together with their inmates;
slaughtering others with the sword and lance, hauling off into captivity maidens
and youths, men and women. In the temples of the idols, they slaughtered kine
regarded as sacred by the superstitious people, and smeared the images and
pavement with the blood.
It is time now to say something about the Chowbays, who abound in such large
numbers at Muttra. From a similarity of name by which they are distinguished,
and from the clubs which it is fashionable for them to carry in their hands, they
are thought to be most likely the Sobii whom Alexander found settled in the
Punjab. However it be, the Chowbays in our day are noted for being one of the
four great classes of high-caste Hindostanee Brahmins, who have the exclusive
privilege of ministering in the temples of Krishna in the city of his birth. They
have all the local traditions on the tip of their tongues, to din into the ears of
pilgrims. But none of them appeared to us to be very devout in their
professionsfleecing pilgrims being more their vocation than moralizing. Those
who had pertinaciously followed us on the way had fondly lingered about us for
a time in the hope of reaping a rich harvest. From a dozen, their party had
increased to thrice that number, as the news of our arrival got noised among
their brotherhood. There were many of them who hid fat paunches and
protuberant bellies to denote their easy condition. Others, who had often to rub
shoulders with rivals, were particularly clamorous and importunate in their
application. But among the Chowbays thrift follows not fawning. Their
preferment goes by service, of which each had in his hand a scroll of vouchers
and certificates to substantiate his claim. It mattered little to us to know who had
or had not served any of our ancestors in the duties of a Panda, or religious
attendant upon themwe turned a deaf ear to the solicitations of those, who
contrive to gain their ends by worrying a man with the din of a clamorous
application. Our cool indifference and imperturbable equanimity upset all their
calculations, and when they found that they spoke to a dead wall, they gradually
dropped away one by one to their great chagrinamazed at our wonderful
thick-skinnedness. There are 1400 families of Chowbays, making about 3000
personsthe same number that is spoken of the ancient Buddhist monks by Fa
Hian. The greatest of all the Chowbays was created by Akber. He had 52 jujmans
or religious patrons, mostly out of the great Hindoo officers of that emperors
court. None of his descendants are now living. Gymnastic exercises are a great
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favourite with the Chowbays. There is a slur upon their character that they are
the illegitimate offspring of Hindoo mothers and the Affghaun officers of Ahmed
Shahs army, in consequence of which the Vrijbashees do not marry in a
Chowbay family. The Chow-bays intermarry amongst themselves, and never
make connection in a house from which they cannot have a son or daughter in
exchange. It is peculiar with them to celebrate at once 20 marriages on a day, to
avoid incuring a large expense in the feeding of their relatives.
The Chowbaynees are in the grandest style of beauty. The whole class is superb,
and the general character of their figure is majestic. Their colour is the genuine
classical colour of the Brahminees of antiquity. In returning back to our lodge, we
chanced to see a creature who was going to pay her evening devotions at a
neighbouring shrine. The veil was so drawn over the head, as to leave the face
open to the admiration of passers by. It was a perfect unmasked batteryher
large, black, rolling eyes charging with the artillery of their charms. As she
passed along with the inceding tread of a Juno bearing a platter of flowers in
one of her hands, the throngs drew themselves on either side of the street to
make way for her, and gaze for a moment at her sovereign beautyat the
delicacy of her figure and complexion. Though well aware of the fact that all eyes
had been turned upon her, she did not falter a step in her motion,nor did a
muscle move in her face, or a blush rise to her cheeks. Called often by their
profession to be out of doors, the Brahmin women are more accustomed to such
trials than any other class of Hindoo females; hence they acquire a firmness of
mind which makes it no easy thing to stare any of them out of countenance. Her
elegant costume was admirably calculated to set off the personal graces of the
Chowbaynee. No attire is so becoming to the delicate form of a woman as the
Hindostanee garment, angya, and dopatta. It is the opinion of an accomplished
English lady, that a woman in European attire gives the idea of a German
mannikin,an Asiatic, in her flowing drapery, recalls the statue of antiquity. The
up-country women are in the habit of darkening the edges of their eye-lids, a
practice originally Hindoo, and prevalent from a long antiquity. Not less so are
the uses of the betel and henna in dyeing the lips and fingers. Hindoo female
taste does not err so much in deepening the black and red of nature, as does
Mahomedan female taste in preferring to blacken the lips, enamel the teeth, and
cover the eye-lids with gold-leafabsurdities giving a ghastly appearance to
lovely countenances.
On return from our stroll, our host took us through the hospital to see his
patients, among whom one case particularly attracted our notice. The patient, a
tall man of about sixty, was lying insensible for eight and forty hours. He was
brought out into the open air for examination, and on a bucket of water being
poured over his head and face, began to move his limbs and feet. Two or three
more buckets were poured, to bathe his whole body, but no efforts could revive
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him to utter a single word, or take in any kind of food. It was not till the next day
that he was to get back his sensespeople generally taking three days to recover
from such stupefaction. This is the second instance of the kind which has
occurred in one week. The victim in the first instance had been a poor rustic
fellow, who had been coming home after nightfall from a relative with a brass
lotah in his hands. However slight the temptation it set upon him one of those
professional poisoners, called Dhutoreeas, who formerly infested every road in
India. In a little time the rogue ingratiated himself into the confidence of the poor
traveller, and as they sat in a roadside but to have a pull at the hookah, the
poisoner took the opportunity to put the noxious drug of dutoora in the tobacco,
and gave it to his companion to smoke. Before long the traveller became
stupified and fell asleep, when the other man very conveniently made off with
the lotah, with nobody to give the alarm. Unquestionably, this is Thuggism in a
milder type, the outbreak of which is apprehended as the consequence of
dearness of food.
Though probably a city given up to an eternal round of fetes and tomfooleries,
society in Muttra is greatly mercantile. In the long street of shops, we were not
prepared for the sight that met our eyes. It was gay, animated, striking, and
beautiful, thronged by Mahrattas, Marwarees, Chowbays, and others, in their
various costumes, and all mingled together in agreeable confusion. The different
shops were well supplied with from knick-knacks to the most costly goods, and
you hear there men talking about cotton, and opium, and indigo, and exchanges,
and other topics of interest, in the literal meaning of the word. The houses of the
higher mercantile classes are large, neat, and in good order, with ornamented
balconies and painted windows. Just on the floor above the street, sits the grave
and sedate guddee-wallah, with the pipe in his mouth, now casting his looks at the
mohurrurs bringing up his books, and then attending a broker to hear his report
of the market.
It was a season of festivity, and two of our friends tarried behind to enjoy a
nautch, while we proceeded on the same evening to Brindabun. The ruth,from
which, no doubt, has been derived the word chariot,the ruth is decent enough,
with its scarlet screens and canopy hung with fringes. But it is set upon two
wheels without any springs, and drawn by a pair of bullocks, whose jog-trot
pace keeps the light concern in a perpetual oscillation. In such a car did Okoor
bring Krishna and Buldeo to the Court of Kunsa,and in such a car did we
proceed to Brindabun. But with all our veneration for the classics, and our
recollections of the heroic ages, we soon felt under the joltings of the ruth as if an
abscess was forming on our liver. Rocks have altered, worlds have changed, and
nations have worn away, but no improvement has taken place in the vehicular
architecture of the Hindoo.
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From Muttra to Brindabun is three gaw-koss, or the distance that is measured by
the audibleness of the bellowing of a cow from one extremity to another. This
curious mode of measuring distance is natural to a rude pastoral people, and
significantly speaks of the pastoral state of the country in ancient times. But a
fine road now presents itself skirting the river, and though not well laid down it
is good enough for driving a buggy, one of which was actually seen to roll away
past by our ruth of the fifteenth century B.C. The last streaks of sunset faded
away from the clear blue sky of a beautiful climate, and the mellowed light of an
Indian twilight helped us for two miles of ground. On our right flowed the
classic waters of the Jumna. To our left, the country opened charming woodland
sceneries, abounding with flocks of wild peacocks, the plume of which is so
prominent on the coronet of Krishna.
November 3. This is the sixteenth day, and we are at Brindabun. Our
grandfathers and great-grandfathers had to make their wills before setting out on
a pilgrimage to this Ultima Thule of their days. By land, the journey was unsafe
from wild beasts, from highway robbers, from Thugs, and from Mahratta rovers.
By water, the voyage was unsafe from Non - Westers, from pirates, and from the
river-police. Those were days of might over rightof tera ke mera, in which the
timid Bengalee, who quitted his home, scarcely hoped to escape the thousand
accidents by flood and field. But travelling thus far we have not lost a pice, and
not a man has dared to approach us either in the mountain gorge, or upon the
lonely heath. In a few years the Railway shall further abridge this distance and
time, and inaugurate an era of security to life and property which has been never
known to these regions.
The news about our own selves must have travelled before us, or otherwise our
family Panda could not have had-the intimation to show us his face early this
morningthe first face which a pilgrim has to meet with in Brindabun. Though
we looked with an un-favourable eye upon all Pandas, the young manfor he
was only two and twenty years oldwho was so opportune in coming to wait
upon us with his welcome and offer of services, had a mild appearance and
modest demeanour to bias us in his favourgood looks, as the saying goes,
being the first recommendation. He was quite a stranger, and introduced himself
to us by taking the names of several of our relativeswhich it is a more useful
thing for his brethren to treasure up in their memory than the names of worthies
taught in the Shastersand handing to us at the same time a scroll of old papers
for our inspection. They were the certificates of services which had been
rendered by his predecessors to such of our ancestors and to those of other
people, as had come on a pilgrimage to this holy town. There is a pleasure to go
through these testimonials, and chance upon the autographs of a grandfather or
great-grandfather, that interest us by being the only relic of their handwriting yet
in existence. The only name among our ancestors which turned up to meet our
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eye was that of a grand.-uncle bearing date the year l825. His certificate further
increased our amiable feelings towards the young man who had brought it, and
in the end so fully established him in our graces as that we accepted the offer of
his services by subscribing our name to his paper below that of our grand-uncle
a paper that is to be bequeathed by him to his descendants, and preserved as a
precious heir-loom in the family. Few of the vouchers or certificates were found
to be older than three generations, or beyond the age of our grandfathers. This is
a proof, that pilgrimages to Brindabun were less frequent when British rule had
not extended to these provinceswhen the inroads of the Mahratta and Jaut, of
Holkar and Ameer Khan, had plunged the valley of the Jumna in misrule and
anarchy.
Our Panda fixed, our clothings put on, and the sun up enough for all the gods to
have got out of their beds, we sallied out on our ramble. The birth-place of
Krishna is not half so sacred as this place of his amorous adventures. He appears
to owe his apotheosis more to his liaisons than to his miracles. He excites the
enthusiasm of his followers more by the stories of his early gallantries than by
those of the honourable exploits of his maturer years. In Brindabun he tended
cattle, stole milk, played upon the pipe, and danced, sported, and philandered
with milkmaids; and the scenes of his gay amours are reckoned as objects of the
holiest veneration. To the Vishnuvite, Brindabun is the land of poetic dreams
the Elysium of his fondest aspirations. How it has been immortalized by the
Muse, and has called forth the noblest and most melodious lyric in the language!
If there be a spot of ground on earth in which the historical, and the poetical, and
the fabulous are so charmingly blended together that we would not separate
them if we could, it is the little town of Brindabun, which lies under a pure sky,
and is washed by the waters of a crystal stream. The mendicant Byragee traverses
many countries, and at last ceases from his wanderings to pass the evening of his
days and lay his bones in the classic soil of Vrij.
More than one emissary had been sent by the tyrant Kunsa to seek the life of
Krishna, and the herdsmen of Gokul emigrated with him to Brindabunthen a
very secluded place, from the many woods in which it had been embosomed.
This is the earliest story about Brindabun that is on record. But it cannot fail to
strike a man, how, in a place only six miles distant the infant could have been
secure from the tyrants reach. The exile of Krishna, his concealment under the
roof of an humble cowherd in an obscure village, his association with shepherd
boys, and his pastimes with shepherd girls, are all common events in the annals
of mankind. But it is difficult to account for how he could openly do all these
things so near to the abode of his implacable foe, and still that foe remain
ignorant of his whereabouts. It is the story of the prophecy of Kunsas fall, that
causes the hitch in our belief. By dropping that story, all doubts would be
silenced. But it is by the invention of that story, and of the miracles performed at
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a tender age, that Krishna assumes the celebrity of an Avatar in the eyes of his
followers.
Taking Muttra as a centre, the circle described by a radius of eighty-four miles
would give the extent of ancient Vrij the seat of all that was refined in
Hindooism, and the language of which, Vrij-buli, was the purest and the most
melodious dialect of India. In all Vrij, the most classic spot is Brindabun. The
tract, comprehended by a circle thus described, was the lingdom that had been
occupied by the Sursenii of Menu and Megasthenes. It was the inheritance to
which Krishna was entitled by his birthright, but which had been usurped by
Kunsa. Fourteen years of his life had been spent in concealment at Gokul and
Brindabun, before Krishna had an opportunity to go to Muttra, kill his uncle, and
recover his patrimony. The period for which he wielded the sceptre of his
ancestors at Muttra was eleven years. He thus passed five-and twenty years of
his life in Vrija classic region, every inch of which is deemed hallowed ground
by his acts and adventures. Here, on his deification, rose the first altars to his
worship. It is not known when and under what circumstances that worship first
commenced, but it appears to have grown into a rage in the olden times. The
refined Hindoo, abjuring all sensual interpretation, attached a character of
spiritual love to the dalliances of Kanya and Radha. The soft idyls of their pastoral
adventures fell in melting strains, and found an echo in the feelings and
sentiments of a worldly laity. Vishnuism, inculcating the worship of Krishna,
had been moulded and fashioned with an imagery, which, kindling the
imagination, at once enthralled the hearts of the females; and the warm-hearted
Rajputnees crowded to his shrines, drawing all the youth of the country after
them.
4
From austerity, the natural reaction is to licentiousness, and people falling
off from the severities of Buddhism embraced a creed which they found to eome
home to their bosoms. Vrij, where Krishnas descendants fondly cherished the
memory of his exploits, became the head-quarters of his religion. But the Islamite
came, and striking a fatal blow, sadly humbled the pride of that flourishing
religion. The shrines abounding in Vrij were all doomed to demolition. The
images adorning them met with a similar fate. To escape the hammer of the
infidel, the idols of principal note had been secreted, or transported beyond his
reach. The statue of Balmokund of Brindabun was concealed in the Jumna. That
of Gokulnath was hid in a ravine on the banks of that river. Yadu-nauth, the
image worshipped at Mahavan, fled on the approach of Mahmood. Thus
desecrated, depopulated, and reduced to a desolate waste, Vrij lost all its
attractions, and ceased to possess any prestige. No more did pilgrims throng
there from far and near. On the soil lingered only the remnants of a scattered and
poor population, and the region became a wilderness in a few years. The site of
4
It was to counteract this fervour, that the Jains of Western India set up their image of Neminatha fact
communicated in confidence to Col. Tod by one of the sect.
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Brindabun happened to be entirely forgotten. Nobody recollected the positions
of its sanctuaries, or the fate of its idols. Upon the spots distinguished by the
miracles of Kenya grew wheat and barley. Not a voice broke in upon the solitude
brooding over the scenes of his pastimes. The peacock gamboled and the ape
leapt from bough to bough in the groves sacred to his memory. Neglected
Brindabun lay in this wild, untenanted state for four centuriesits antiquities
obliterated, its traditions forgotten, and its very name almost passed into
oblivion.
In the same manner that the Christian world is indebted to the Empress Helena,
the mother of Constantine, for her explorations of the unknown localities
consecrated by the acts of the Redeemer, is the Hindoo world indebted to
Choitunya and his disciples for the restoration of Brindabun to its pristine
importance and sanctity. Nothing has yet turned up to give a clue for
ascertaining the age in which Vishnuvism first originated. The most authentic
fact of its earliest existence on record is furnished by the inscription on the Iron
Pillar at Delhi, stating Rajah Dhava, who put up that pillar in A. D. 319, to have
been a worshipper of Vishnu. The next fact is supplied by Fa Hian, who saw the
Vishnupod to have been already established at Gaya in the beginning of the fifth
century. The Vishnuva worship is said to have been instituted at Kanchi in the
Carnatic by Luchmana Acharya. But it must have been by a learned Brahmin
either of Rajpootana or Guzeratplaces famous for the life and acts of Krishna
that Vishnuvism was modified to introduce the worship of that incarnation. The
great text-book of the VishuvitesSreemut -Bhaghut, is supposed to be the work
of Bopdeva, a grammarian, who lived in the court of the Rajah of Deoghur in the
middle of the twelfth century. So involved in obscurity and fable is the origin of
all Hindoo sects,that nothing certain can be known about them. But there exists
no uncertainty as to the reformations undertaken by Choitunya. The decadence
of Vishnuvism on the advent of the Islamite left the amalgamated Shivites and
Sactos to form the most dominant sect in India. They prospered most in Bengal,
but degenerated to the grossest abuses. Disgusted by the abominable orgies of
the Tantrkks, Choitunya sought to propagate the tenets of a purer religion, by
imparting a new type to Vishnuvism, and creating a reaction in its favour. He
glossed over those texts of the Bhagbut which were likely to bring his creed into
disrepute. He viewed the flirtations of Krishna with the Gopinees in a Platonic
light, and founded upon them his doctrine of Bhukti, or Faith, as contra-
distinguished from Works.
5
The history of Vrijthe cradle of his religion,
5
The union of Krishna with Radha was in his eyes like the mystical union of Christ with the Church. The
relation between man and God is compared to the relation between husband and wife, the carnal element
being subtracted and ignored. There are five stages of faith. The first and lowest is simply contemplatire,
like that of the Rishis Sanaka and Yogendro. The second is servile, like that of men generally. The third is
friendly, like the feeling with which Sreedama and the Gopguns regarded Krishna. The fourth is maternal,
paternal, or filial, like that of Jushoda. Devaki, &c. The fifth and highest is amorous or loving, like that of
Radha.
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formed the most important chapter in his creed. Visions of the sable Krishna
flashed across his mind and he dreamt of Brindabun in his ecstatic dreams. That
beloved seat of his god was lying neglected for many an age. He resolved to
unlock the sealed treasures of that charmed region, and, by reinstating Kanya in
his long-lost Brindabun, inaugurate the epoch of a second revelation to his
followers. To carry out his intentions, he deputed two of his favourite disciples,
Rupa and Sonatun, to precede him in the exploration. They left Benares, and
commenced their labours from Agrabun or Agra, which forms the starting-point
for the circuit of Vrij. Few men could be so eminently qualified by their learning
and zeal for the task intrusted to them. They proceeded, making careful
researches, treasuring every precious tradition, examining every nook and
vestige, identifying and localizing the scenes of every memorable event,
disinterring and dragging into light what had been buried in darkness, and
illumining the whole benighted region of Vrij. It was impossible to mistake
Goverdhun, the mount from which Krishna had made known his miracles and
oracles to the Yadus, and in a cave of which had been raised the first shrine on
his apotheosis. It was impossible to mistake the landmarks pointing the site of
Muttra or Mahnvun. Before long, Choitunya himself followed in the steps of his
disciples. He happened to fall on the way into the hands of five Patans, who
intended to attack and plunder him, but struck by his sanctity they desisted from
their hostile intents, and were persuaded to become his followers. Reaching
Brindabun, Choitunya found it to have been exhaustively explored, and all its
holy sites and scenes identified. He got up on an eminence to survey the
hallowed region, when a doubt came across his mind as to the accuracy of the
explorations. Fortunately, he met with a native of the place called Bristodoss,
who had treasured up all the local traditions, and who, fully enlightening him,
removed all doubts from his mind From that day has Brindabun become
reopened as the resort of pilgrims, and the name of Choitunya venerated as that
of a deity incarnate.
To the identification of the localities, followed the discovery of the penates of the
ante-Mahometan age. The statue of Bal-mookund lying in the Jumna, attached
itself to the sacerdotal zone of Bullubha Acharya, as he was performing his
ablutions in that river. Gorerdhunnath was raised from a cave in the mount of that
name Gokulnath was discovered in a ravine of that island in the Jumna. One by
one, the seven principal statues of Vrij were collected, set up, and begun to be
worshipped. The resurrection of Brindabun was now complete, and, abounding
with shrines and temples, it once more resumed the opulence and splendour
which had been enjoyed in the halcyon days of the Tuars and Chohanse.
It is a common saying to the pilgrim in Brindabun Heri-bole, ghut-ree-khul,
Brindabun-doulTake the name of Heri, loosen thy purse-strings, and stroll
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through Brindabun. But we had determined to give the Gordian knot to our
purse-strings, beyond paying the trifle of a nuzzerana-fee to get a sight of the idols.
Just on the point of our starting, our Panda and others, with a burst of enthusiasm,
clapped their hands, and cried out Radha-ranee! Radha-ranee! The usual
exclamation for taking the auspices. The tour of Brindabun has to be commenced
by paying the first visit to Govnjee, who has the seniority of the other gods.
Orthodox Hindoos coming up here, at once go up to him with the dust on their
feettrue pilgrimage being his who performs it on foot. Similarly as Biseswara
had disappointed us at Benares, did Govinjee do the same thing in Brindabun.
His prestige had raised great expectations in us, but we found him to occupy a
very humble shrine, consisting simply of an oblong chamber, with three arched
openings, faced by an outer verandah. Nothing under the name of furniture
adorns the shrine. The bare walls stand unrelieved by any pictures or shades.
From the ceilings hangs no candelabra or lantern. The only decorations are some
scarlet kannats and purdahs, and two big brass cheragh-stands. Things here are in a
state that reminds us of Babers remark; the people of Hindoostan have no
candles, no torches, not even a candle-stick. But Govinjee looked very happy
with Radha on one side and Nullita on the other. He was in his morning dress,
wearing the pugree and robe of a Hindoo Rajah. In other parts of the day, be is
seen attired in other fashions. He never lays aside his flute, except when he has
to appear in the military uniform of Kunsas conqueror, with a bow and arrow in
his hands. The statue of Govinjee was originally the god of Mount Goverdhun,
where he had been raised as the first image to Krishna He had to be concealed in
a cave from fear of falling into the hands of Mahmood of Ghizni, and lay
unnoticed there till reinstated by Bullubha Acharya. The present statue is but a
substitutethe ancient penate being now at Nathdwara. He became an exile
from Vrij to escape the vengeance of Aurungzebe. On his proscription by that
Emperor, the Rana Raj Sing of Mewar espoused his cause, and offered the heads
of one hundred thousand Rajpoots for his service. In charge of this escort, the
Emperor dared not to intercept his progress. As he journeyed to gain the capital
of the Rana, the chariot-wheel sunk deep into the earth, and defied extrication.
The augur interpreted the omen as indicating the pleasure of the god to fix his
abode upon that spot, which from an inconsiderable village rose to be the future
town of Nathdwara. This chariot of Kanya and its miraculous wheel are still
preserved as inestimable relics, and are permitted to be worshipped alone by the
most devout. His godship was right in taking a timely flight, and must have had
the prescience to know the fate that awaited his temple. Its pinnacles, proudly
rising in the air, were an eyesore to Aurungzebe, and they were toppled down by
his order. The temple is yet standing, and shall stand for many ages to come, a
gigantic but truncated pile, to proclaim the vandalism of the Islamite. To Rajah
Mann does this temple owe its foundation and name of Maun Mundeer. That
Rajpoot chief had been intrusted by Akber with an expedition to Cabul. In that
snowy climate he fell seriously ill, and, despairing of his life, made a vow to
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build a shrine to Govinjee, on his recovery. He got well, and, true to his vow,
built this temple to the god, to whose favour he thought he owed his cure. The
stupendous, but at the same time the splendid, monument is worthy of the man
who has raised it, and of the god to whom it has been raised. Three hundred
years have not loosened a slab in the massy structure. Outwardly the form is
pyramidal. In the interior, the arched alcoves are a striking proof of Rajpoot
engineering skill. The carvings and sculptures are elegant. There is a large niche
in the wall, where the god used to sit on his throne most conspicuously. Profaned
by the infidel, it is now a deserted sanctuary, standing a few paces from the one
now occupied. The ancient red-sandstone Maun Mundeer, of Govinjee, is the
largest and most magnificent temple that we have seen in all Bengal and
Hindoostan.
Lord of the mace and discus before thy image we stand. Millions of Hindoos
believe and bow to thee as a god. But a Young Bengal cannot vouchsafe to bend
his head to thee. He regards thee to have been made like him after the image of
his Maker. He believes thee to have been the son of Vasudeb, king of Muttra,
friend and ally of the Pandavas, and founder of Dwarka. He reveres thy memory
for thy great qualities as a warrior and statesman, and wishes that another like
thee had been born to keep off the Mussulmans from India. But he cannot be
impious to adore thee as a god. Pride of Yadu-vansa! Bow thou must be
aggrieved to be called Murari, with a flute in thy hand in place of the discus to
be worshipped only as a sensualist and the lover of Radha: how wrathful we
think thee to be at thy privacies being made a public property, and at thy
memory being so grossly libelled. In their infatuation thy followers have not
scrupled to invade the sanctity of thy private life, to drag thy secrets into light, to
invent many a prank thou didst not commit, and to put thee to blushes before
posterity. Boswell has noted greater particulars, and laid them before the public,
but has not made Johnson to appear as a monster. In this thy votaries have erred
most cunningly, but have acted suicidally to ruin the interests of their country,
by enervating themselves the more with artificial heat in such a hot land of ours
to defend it from their enemies. Rightly to have venerated thy memory, was to
have remembered thee as a hero whose mantle should be inherited by his
countrymen. Humbler of the Kurus! If thou couldst be exorcised by spiritualism,
thy votaries would be at once enlightened, and make amends to thy reputation.
They are remarking our audacity in not bowing to thee. But a craven is that
Young Bengal, who trifles with his Creator to avoid being awkward and the butt
of remark, by bowing to an idol whom he despises in his heart, and who
sacrifices principle to policy. It is not that Young Bengal is without any belief. To
quote the words of a great writer, touching God and His ways with man, the
highest human faculties can discover little more than the meanest. In theology,
the interval is small indeed between Aristotle and a child, between Archimedes
and a naked savage. The history of nations is before him, and a Young Bengal is
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loath to abide by any book-revelation. He thinks that he would be lagging
behind the age by taking up the question of eternal concerns in preference to that
of the concerns of this world to the question of his mission upon earth.
Ostensibly he has no religionnot even Brahminisni, which is being hampered
with rules and forms giving it a sectarian air. But, nevertheless, he has his faith in
the life that is right, and he rests his hopes in an Almighty Disposer of events.
In return for the nuzzerana-fee with which we had to make acceptable our visit to
Govinjee, we had the honour to receive from his wardrobe each a red-coloured
scarf with a border of gold, and a tray of his sacred food. The pera, a kind of
comfit, of which the god was fond in his infancy, is still his favourite food. His
taste for curds and butter was acquired from the dairy of Jushoda. But the days
of simplicity are gone, and the Apollo of Vrij now has his curds adulterated with
rose water and amber. The dead stock of Govinjees shrine is augmented by the
pious bounties of pilgrims from the most distant provinces. There is no donation
too trifling for his acceptance, and his hand is spread out to receive even the
widows mite. Krishna is the deified ancestor of the Yadus, and the Rajpoots
have always been his most zealous worshippers. But the largest influx of votaries
now is from Bengal. The idol is said to be under the protection of the Rajah of
Jeypoor. But, as from the days of Sancara Acharya, have Mala bar Brahmins
ministered at the temple of Badrinath, on the Himalayas, so from the days of
Choitunya have people from Bengal had the ascendancy in the temples of
Brindabun. The most devoted votary of Heri now is the Byragee of Bengal, who
renounces the world to pass his days in Brindabun invoking his name. The
principal office at the shrine, that of Kamdar or Manager, is never given but to a
Bengalee. The township of Brindabun is held as the sacred Zemindary of a trio of
gods, and no inconsiderable portion of revenue is derived by Govinjee from his
one-third share in the estate.
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CHAPTER II.
No end of idols and temples in Brindabunpassed a whole morning, and still
visited not more than a fourth of them. The idols are the same everywhere
Kaniya, with Radha on his left, and Nullita on the right. The temples, adorned
with elaborate carvings upon stone, are all costly buildings, but without much
variety. Krishna appears to number almost every Hindoo prince among his
followers. There is the temple of the Rajah of Jeypore as well as of his Ranee and
of his favourite mistress, of the Rajah of Bhurtpoor and of his Ranee, of Scindia,
of Holkar, of the Rajah of Dinajpore, of the Rajah of Burdwan, and of many other
potentates. The dignity of these shrines is maintained by rich endowments and
grants, besides the donations of pilgrims. The daily expenditure in one or two of
them is 100 rupees, and in none less than 10 rupees. In all these religious
foundations, the pershad, or the food offered to the god, forms the sinecure
livelihood of that floating population of ascetics and mendicants by whom the
place is crowded in all seasons, and who by the lowest estimate would not
number less than two thousand souls. There are hangers-on, who are insured of
their food for their lifetime under especial recommendations.
The second in the trio of gods is Gopinath, or the Lord of the Gopinees. This also
is a substitute in place of the original penate, which had to be removed away
from the reach of Aurungzebe. There is nothing in the statue of the Lord of the
Gopinees to indicate that surpassing beauty of Krishna, by which be captivated
the hearts, not only of rural damsels, but of the Princesses of ancient Hind. The
poet does him more justice than the artist. In vain we endeavoured to recognize
any charms which the statue is said to possess. The dull cold figure betrays a
most defective conception, and is void of any expression. The features are hard
and utterly meaninglessbeing hit off without the slightest stamp of that
amorous ardency which should characterize the countenance of the Lord of the
Gopinees. It is a sad mistake of the sculptor to have chosen principally to exercise
his skill upon black marble. The mind and manners of Krishna must have had
more to do in winning feminine hearts than his light azure complexion, which
the artist has been so anxious above all to perpetuate. Krishna is described to
have had the perfection of the male figure, such as he appears to young female
imaginationsheroic, beautiful, breathing music from his very eyes, and
exalting the religion of his worshippers into love. To have executed a likeness of
him, the sculptor should have modelled the beau ideal of the male figurea
Phidian image of the Indian Apollo,and then at least could Hindoo idolatry
have boasted to have developed the beautiful in art, and accomplished a triumph
for its apology. The size of the image also should have been of the standard of
lifeits diminutiveness degrades it into a doll.
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In like manner, the statue of Radha, intended as a personification of all that is
elegant, graceful, and beautiful in the other sex, is a complete failure. Though
moulded into a slender form, the stiff metal has anything but realized the figure
of the graceful sylphide who was the pearl in the ocean of Heris mortal birth.
Her face appears not to smile with complacency on her best-beloved. The fawn-
eyed Radha of the poet has in the image eyes staring upon the pilgrim, rather
than gazing upon the bright face of Krishna. These are not only artistic but also
historic faults in the statue. Care has been taken, however, to preserve historic
truth in staining the eyes with antimonyin placing a circle of musk on the
forehead in intertwining a chaplet of flowers and peacocks feathers in the
dark tresses in girding the waist with a zone of bells and in wearing on the
ankles rings which tinkled when sporting in the dance. The costume and
adornments of the image help to give an idea of the toilet of a Hindoo lady in the
fifteenth century before Christ.
The affairs of Gopinath are now at the lowest ebb. His property is all under
mortgage, and he is over head and ears in debt. The mutiny, having put a stop to
all pilgrimage from Bengal, has brought him to this pass. Brindabun is annually
visited by more than ten thousand Bengalees, from whose contributions the gods
of Vrij draw their principal support. Not one has come in during the last three
years. Now that tranquillity has been restored, they are in great hopes of seeing
the god out of his difficulties. Much is expected, also, from the opening of the
Railway. But pilgrims, then pouring in tenfold or twentyfold numbers, will find
disenchanted Vrij to have lost many of the attractions that are lent by distance.
Just as much as the mild doctrines of Kaniya differ from the dark rites of Shiva, is
the Jumna distinguished in its features from those of the Ganges. Not only does
the former river revive the memory of a renowned antiquity, but its shores
likewise present to our view the theatre of the miracles of a famous religion. To
an orthodox Hindoo, the Jumna is endeared by a thousand tender and sacred
associations. The banks of that stream are fancied to be the sunny land of love
and songthe scene of celestial events played upon earth. On those banks, he
likes to sit and dream over the days of pastoral Vrij. But on the grassy margin
where Kaniya pastured kin e, or on the smooth, hardened sand where he
wandered arm-in-arm with Radha, are now massive structures and ghauts of
stone, scarcely harmonizing with pastoral reminiscences. Here and there, an
antique banyan or embowering neem overhangs the stream, and old Kalindi is all
that yet continues to flow on, outliving the perishable records of man, and
producing in the soul feelings and ideas which no other river is capable of
exciting.
The ghauts in Benares are not less various than in Brindabun. There is the Kaisee-
ghaut, the most noted of all, where Krishna, while yet a mere boy, slew Kaisee, a
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Dwaita of gigantic strength, sent by Kunst to take away his life. The anniversary
of that exploit is still observed with great festivities. By pilgrims, a dip in this
ghaut is thought to be highly meritorious. Immediately over the spot where the
miracle was performed now towers a lofty and rich temple, with a ghaut the
steps of which, built of red sandstone, descend several feet into the water.
Next in rank is the spot where Krishna killed Bukasoor, or the demon who had
come from his uncle to destroy him, disguised as a crane. The bird sat laying
open its enormous beaks that touched heaven and earth, so that his mouth
seemed as it were a great gap in the latter, to the shepherds who were tending
their cattle along the river-bank. In they unconsciously walked to the stomach of
the crane. But wary Krishna at once detected the foe, and, following in the steps
of his playmates, stuck like an obstinate fish-bone at the throat of the bird, and
kicking up a rumpus in his stomach, at last tore him asunder in two by his beaks.
This feat also is annually commemorated by an effigy to bring grist to the mill of
the Vrij-bashees.
6
The Bushter-hurun tree that they showed us, of small size, with tender twigs and
branches, is quite a sham still they are not wanting in barefacedness to
identify it with its original. Its situation on the river-bank has been made to
accord with the legend. The Gopinees of yore had come to bathe in the Jumna,
and leaving behind their garments on the bank, were engaged in laving and
sporting in the waters. Krishna had watched the opportunity for a prank, and,
coming unperceived, softly stole away their clothes to a neighbouring tree. He
got up on it, and, hanging the clothes up on the branches, sat upon one, playing
on his flute. On getting out of the stream, the Gopinees were extremely surprised
to miss their dresses. But soon they discovered them suspended from the
branches of a tree, and the author of the mischievous act sitting thereon to enjoy
the frolic of their exposureto see beauty double every charm it seeks to hide.
No entreaty could prevail upon the naughty youth to give up his waggery, and
save young damsels the expense of their modesty. The Gopinees had to come up
to the tree, hiding their nudity as well they could by the flowing tresses of their
hair, and to stand soliciting to have their clothes thrown to them. Though the fact
of the present Vrij-maces leaving behind their garments like the Gopinees of old
on the steps of a ghaut, and then making a rush to the waters to conceal their
nakedness, might give a colouring of truth to the story, still it cannot but be
regarded as the invention of a prurient imagination to tell upon soft minds, and
win over soft hearts. Standing, as it does, just upon the brink and overlooking the
stream, if the present tree be supposed to occupy the position of its original, then
it is doubtful how any man could have played the prank in question without
6
Kunsa seems to us to be the myth of an ancient Buddhist king of Muttra, who opposed the rise and
spread of the worship of Krishna. The early miracles of that god allude but to the discouragements under
which his religion laboured in the beginning and over which it one by one triumphed.
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instant detection. There hang from the branches of the tree vari-coloured linen in
imitation of the dresses of the Gopinees. The waggish god is fancied to be still
perched on its top, with the naked nymphs standing in a group below him, and
praying for the return of their clothes. The pilgrims, therefore, coming to visit
this famous tree, cannot make up their minds to go away without leaving behind
them the token of a piece of linen suspended from the branches in very pity of
the distressed Gopinees.
Near the entrance of the town from the river, was pointed the Ukoor-ghaut, or the
spot where Minor halted, and left behind the car in which he had travelled from
Muttra. He was related to Krishna as uncle, and had been sent by Kunsa to invite
him to a festival at the Court of that Rajah. The exiled scion of the house of the
Sursena had become tired of his incognito life, of tending cattle, and of skying
with milkmaids. He hoped to reap important results from the opportunity, and
gladly accepted the invitation to the Court of Muttra. It is the occasion of this
departure from Brindabun that is annually made the cause to observe that car-
festival, which is celebrated with so much clat in all parts of India, and which
ushers in the season to chant in soft, and plaintive lays the farewells and
valedictories and forget-me-nots that soothe the griefs of a love-lorn heart. In
vain did Nunda, and Jushoda, and the associates of Krishna dissuade him from
his purpose.
In vain did the Gopinees implore the false youth to stay. In vain did Radha weep
and lament and refuse to be comforted. As the daughter of Rajah Birshobhano,
she had tarnished the honour of a princely house. As the wife of Ayan Ghose,
she had proved faithless to a man of fair fame. She had left parent and husband,
had lost heaven, mankinds and her own esteem; and the anguish of her soul was
exceeded only by the injustice done to her feelings. But Krishna refused to give
up, for her pouting lips, a crown. He departed to recover his patrimony, breaking
his plighted troth with Radha, and abandoning her to struggle with a passion she
could not cast aside.
For her on earth, except some years to hide
Her shame and sorrow deep in her hearts core:
It was all over and from the day of his exit she never ceased to mourn the sad
fate to which she had been left behinda fate which has afforded and shall yet
afford to generations of Hindoos the most touching theme to exhaust their most
pathetic strains upon. In pity of her disconsolate condition, the worshippers of
Kaniya have made Radha the heiress of his prestige in Brindabun, and her name
as the Ranee of Vrij is in the mouths of the men, women, and children of this
land.
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The Kalya-dah is another famous ghaut, where Kalya-nag, the black serpent,
infested the waters of the Jumna. Poisonous effluvia issued from the place of his
abode. No finny tenant could dwell near him. Not a blade of grass grew upon the
bank. The stray line that drank water there instantly perished. To get rid of the
monster, Krishna dragged him from the stream, and bruised him on the head.
The sun is said to have darkened, the sky rained blood, the earth shaken, and
portentous fires to have broken out, so long as the desperate contest lasted. But
this is most probably a plagiarism from the Evangelists, to suit the events of a
story so akin to the other. Be that as it may, we may extract a meaning from the
Puranic account of the coiling and uncoiling of the Hydra, which is but an
allegory of the wars with the Nagas and Takshaks of our ancient history, a race
of people inhabiting Cashmere, Punjaub, and Sind, who worshipped the dragon,
and were the enemies of the Aryas from the Vedic period. The ophiolatrous
Takshak had been scotched in seventeen battles, and was finally vanquished in
the eighteenth though it was not long before Parikshita, the successor of
Judishthira on the throne of Indraprasthe, died by the bite of a snake, that is, lost
his life in a conflict with the Takshaks. The pestilential effect of the Kalyadah
waters is but an allusion to the moral nuisance of the serpent-worshipping Naga
raceunless some peculiar properties in the soil had, at a former period, really
made the waters unwholesome. No such effect as the legend ascribes to them
was visible to us in an inanimate tract void of every vegetation. The grass is as
green there as in any of the adjacent spots, and tortoises floated in shoals. The
inhabitants bear no prejudice against the waters, which they freely use for both
bath and drink. They show here an old Kaili-kudumbo tree as the one from which
Krishna had plunged into the streamas well as the spot on which Jushoda sat
lamenting for his non-appearance. In commemoration of the great Vishnuvite
triumph, an annual mela is held at the Kalya-dah.
Only a solitary boat lay moored on the Jumna below the Kaisee-ghaut, as on the
day when Krishna had acted as the ferryman, and the Gopinees as rowers, to
enjoy a yachting excursion in the round of their amorous pleasures.
To the Brahma-koond, a little square tank, supposed to be of natural excavation,
and regarded as the sacred spot of Vishnus triumph over Brahma. In Benares,
they make Vishnu worship Shivain Brindabun, they make Brahma worship
Vishnu, to assert the superiority of sect over sect. Brahma, the creator of the
universe, had heard of Krishna as an incarnation of Vishnu, and, visiting
Brindabun, had misgivings from his age and occupations, as to his real character.
To try him, he one day slyly carried off through the sky a herd of cattle, old and
young, boys and all, that were attending them. Knowing how much the parents
of the boys and the owners of the cattle would be distressed at their
disappearance, Krishna forthwith created a new herd and other attendants, so
exactly similar to those that Brahma had taken away, that the owners, of the one,
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and the parents of the other, remained quite unawares of the change. Equally did
the new creations themselves remain ignorant of their transformation; and the
cattle walked into their stalls, and the boys into their houses, where they
recognized, and were recognized by, their parents, as if nothing had happened.
Brahma had watched all these proceedings of Krishna, and, satisfied of his
incarnation, restored to him his real cattle and attendants. The tale, in plain
words, allegorizes the story of the warfare between the Brahmaites and
Vishnuvites, the temporary success of the one in carrying off and converting the
flock of the antagonistic sect, and the final triumph of the other in the acquisition
of new followers. Instead of a monumental pillar or other, a tank coupled with
the name of Brahma, has been made to record the triumph of the Vishnuvites.
The tank has little depth in comparison to the elevation of the soil in these
regions, and the cause of it may be accounted for by the proximity of the Jumna
to the locality, which seems to have been the bed of that stream in a former age.
The orange tint of the water indicates a ferruginous soil. On the embankment is
shown the plant of a young banyan, with a few tender sprigs and leaves. This is
pretended to be a sacred Akshuy-Bhut, or immortal banyan and, lest the
pilgrim should scout the notion as ridiculous, the keeper is always ready with his
barefaced tale of the tree having one root in Juggernaut, a second in Allahabad,
and the third at Brindabun. More extraordinary again is Gopeswara, an emblem of
Shiva found in this locality. The legend about him is, that, envying his rival
Krishna for the eternal pastimes and pleasures in which he spent his days with
the Gopinees, he felt extremely desirous of becoming a guest in Vrij. But he
dared not openly make his appearance iu the quarters of one with whom he had
always been on hostile terms. He, therefore, assumed the disguise of a young
damsel to escape detection. But, on his fair female face fell the eye of Krishna,
and he was at once recognized. Forgetting all past enmity, Krishna stretched out
the hand of welcome to his rival, and, making the pot-bellied wassailer cut
capers with the waltzing Gopinees prodigiously heightened the merriment of the
occasion. In plain language, the tale would allude to the mutual hostility of the
Shivites and Vishnuvites, the inclination of the one to be reconciled with the
other, and the temporary coalition of the two sects. It is to a result of this kind
that must be- attributed the origin of the worship of the incorporated Har-Heri
image of the two deities. The term Gopeswara means the disguised god. He is
feigned to live here by stealth, or otherwise his presence would not be tolerated
in Brindabun.
One other object of interest in this neighbourhood is the sumaj or cenotaph of
Hureedoss Gossain. The man by whose grave we stood admiring the boldness of
Choitunya for his innovation of the rites of burial on the immemorial Hindoo
custom of cremation, was a man of great learning, who, quitting the world and
its allurements, retired to Brindabun to meditate upon Heri. His austere life used
to be spent every evening in chanting sacred hymns in praise of his god, and his
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fame as an unrivalled songster reached the ears of Akber. The celebrated Tansen
was his disciple. On one occasion, as the Mogul emperor was sailing up the
Jumna to Delhi, he lagoed his royal barge at Brindabun, near the spot where the
Hindoo recluse had chosen his abode. He had in vain formerly invited him to
attend his court, and was anxious to make this an opportunity for testing his
merits as a songster. The hut of the Gossain lay surrounded by woods and bushes.
Peacocks and parrots abounded in the region, and used to be drawn by the
charms of his melodious voice. The emperor chose to go alone after dusk, and
concealing himself in one of the bushes, thence overheard the usual vesperian
songs of the Gossain and his disciple. Charmed to have never heard any such
vocal music before, he made his appearance in the hut, and introduced himself as
the emperor to the Gossain, expressing great reverence for his piety, and
acknowledging his unrivalled merits as a songster. The emperor held out to him
promises of great wealth and favours to accompany him to his court. But the
hermit refused to exchange his solitary humble cot for even the throne of the
Mogul autocrat. Gold, he said, had no value in his eyes, as the soil on which he
lived was all composed of that metal. The emperor wishing to have a proof, the
Gossain by a miracle displayed the gorgeous vision of a golden Brindabun to the
eyes of the emperor. By no means could Hureedoss be induced to give up his life
of an anchorite. The emperor then requested him to permit his disciple to follow
him to the court. Tansen was then a young lad of eighteen or twenty years of age.
He was a native of Patna who had a great natural fondness for music, and had
been attracted to Brindabun by the fame of Hureedoss. The emperors
persuasions and promises prevailed upon Tansen, and he followed in the train of
Akber to flourish in life, and acquire the celebrity of an incomparable musician in
the annals of his nation. From a Hindoo, he became a convert to the Mahomedan
faith, and his remains lie buried at Gwalior, where the tomb is overshadowed by
a tree, concerning which a superstitious notion prevails, that the chewing of its
leaves will give an extraordinary melody to the voice.
7
Struck by all that he
witnessed, Akber went away bestowing upon Hureedoss for the first time the
title of a Gamin, or the controller of the senses. From that time, also, he began to
entertain a great respect for the worship of Kaniya, and to become an enthusiast
in the mystic poetry of Joydeva. The mime of Hureedoss is eminent among
Choitunyas followers, and he was canonized into a saint after his death. His
cenotaph is a simple heap of earth, covered by a sheet of white linen. They daily
perform rites to his manes, by strewing his sepulchre with flowers, and
sprinkling it with water. The tomb yields a good income to the attendants in
charge.
7
This is Dr. Hunters account written in 1790, but 30 years later, Lloyd found that it was still religiously
believed by all the dancing-girls. So strong was this belief that the original tree died from the continual
stripping of its leaves, and the present tree is only a degenerate seedling of the melody-bestowing
tamarind: General Cunningham.
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The Pooleen is the memorable scene of the Ras-man-dada of Krishna with the
Gopinees. Here, in the season of sweets, and amid bowers of the dark tamala
affording shelter from the noontide blaze, where a soft gale breathed upon a
bank of flowers stealing and giving odour, where the crystal waters of the Jumna
flowed, breaking in moon-lit ripples against the sand and awakening a sweet
harmony, and where peacocks danced in joy pouring forth their sonorous notes,
did Heri exult in the assemblage of amorous damsels. One of them pressed him
with her swelling breast, while she warbled with exquisite melody. Another,
affected by a glance from his eye, stood meditating on the lotos of his face. A
third, on pretence of whispering a secret in his ear, approached his temples and
kissed them with ardour. One seized his mantle, and drew him towards her,
pointing to the bank of the Jumna, where elegant valjulahs interwove their
branches. He applauded another who danced in the sportive circle, while her
bracelets rang as she beat time with her palms. Now he caressed one, and kissed
another, smiling on a third with complacency; and now he chased her whose
beauty had most allured him. Nothing was more extraordinary in this merry
dance, than for Krishna to have multiplied himself into as many personations as
there were maids in the party, and making himself ubiquitous, to console each by
the assurance that she alone enjoyed his affection.
The Ras-mandala has called forth the most impassioned strains of Joydeva, and
has tasked the Bhagbut to employ the highest elegance of diction, the most
brilliant tropes, and the utmost subtlety of meaning. But in vain are all attempts
to refine away its sensethe long and short of it is, that it was a waltzing party,
in which the young shepherdesses had dressed themselves in such a manner as
to do full justice to a white bosom, in which they ogled significantly, danced
voluptuously, excelled in pert repartees, romped without shame with an ardent
youth, and sang sly verses with a sly expression. No sane man can mistake the
luscious episode of the Ras to have been intended otherwise than to take in all
female hearts by a coup-de-main, and to increase the flock in Krishnas fold. It
might be that the Ras-mandala is typical of the zodiacal phenomena; that the nine
Gopinees are the personifications of the nouraginisthe nine nobles of music; or
the nou-rasathe nine passions, excited by the powers of harmony. The
movements of the pastoral nymphs encircling the sun-god Heri in a dancing
attitude, and their holding each a musical instrument in her hand, might be
interpreted as a representation of the mystic dance of the planets round the great
luminary of our heaven. Indeed, there is much in the Hindoo mythology, that is
founded on an astronomical basismuch that perpetuates the early Vedic
worship of the elements under a figurative garb. But the veil of mystery can be
lifted only by the initiated in astronomy. By the common populace, the lustful
orgies can scarcely be mistaken in their meaning, and too often have families to
mourn for stray members affected by the rehearsal of the episode the love-tale
infecting Hindoo daughters with like heat to pay their vows and songs at the
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shrine of their most darling god. In our age, the Penal Code would have had its
influence on the author of the Bhagbut in composing the chapter to which may
be attributed half the immoralities of our nation.
There is no charm now of woodland scenery in the Pooleen
The ground
Where early Love his Psyches zone unbound.
The spot appears to form a deserted bed from which the Jumna has retired. The
knee-deep sands are fiercely beaten upon by the burning rays of the sun, and
emit a highly unpleasant effluvium from the dried cow-dung scattered on the
surface. But the soil trodden by the feet of Krishna and the Gopinees is as
consecrated as ever, and on it falls prostrate the stanch votary to revel in beatific
visions of the god and his shepherdesses. By pilgrims, the doubly holy sands are
carried home to be distributed to relatives and friends, and to be eaten a few
grains at a time every day as a sequel to their prayers. This precious month of
Kartick is the season of sweets, in which Heri gave the horns to Ayun Ghose and
the other simpleton shepherds. There are lots of dancing, and fiddling, and
singing throughout the town on the anniversary of the Ras. But the sands burned
our feet, and the stench of the drying filth of kine made us hasten from a scene,
in which we could little expect to be edified as to our spiritual welfare.
No name is so great in Briudabun as that of Lallah Baboo, the grandson of the
Dewan of Warren Hastings. He was the owner of princely estates, and possessed
the influence and status perhaps of the second native of his day in Bengal. But in
the prime of his manhood, he renounced family, friends, and fortune, to retire to
Brindabun, and await there as an humble attendant upon Kaniya. The
extraordinary act of sacrifice had at first raised doubts of his fatuity. But he
raised a costly shrine, set up the image of Kissenjee after his own name, and
bought estates in the North-West yielding an annual income of forty thousand
rupees for the support of the institution. This is the only shrine in Brindabun
which is adorned with pictures, mirrors, shades, and chandeliers in the fashion
of Calcutta temples. The daily expense in it is one hundred rupees. Five hundred
people are fed every day out of the food that is dressed for the god. The man in
charge of the distribution of food is so clever a physiognomist as to remember
keenly the faces he once sees, and he takes care not to allow the same man from
monopolizing the charity and abusing it as a sinecure, except in his turn once a
fortnight. Strong curses interdict the members of the Baboos family from
partaking in any of the food that is intended purely and solely for public feeding.
The pious Baboo used to sweep the court and compound of his own shrine.
There are people living yet, who re-member him to have daily begged his bread
through the streets of this town. The Vrig-maees used to prepare for him a distinct
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bread, which had the name of Lallah Baboos rottee in each family. Discovering
that his rank was still taken into consideration, the Baboo gave up his beggary
from door to door, and lived on the food which people chose to bear to his
retirement. Latterly, he had left Brindabun, and retired to a cave in Mount
Goverdhun, to pass the remainder of his days in an undisturbed meditation. His
end is said to have been hastened by an accident from the kick of a horse. In the
koonj or shrine bearing his name, grows a thriving cocoathe only plant of its
kind in all Hindoostan. The two grandsons of that pious man, who are so well-
known for their enlightenment and munificent liberality in Calcutta, are now
engaged with the wealthy Paruckjees in a lawsuit that has been pending for
years for a few feet of ground adjoining the shrine of each. The vanity rather than
the piety of the two parties is at stake, and four hundred times the value of the
piece of land under dispute has been expended away without any issue.
8
From Lallah Baboos koonj to the Jain temple of the Paruckjees. In Hwen Thsangs
time there were only five Brahminical temples in Muttrain our day there is
only one Jain temple in Brindabun. The Buddhists of old did not hold the
Brahminical followers in greater detestation than do the Brahmins of this age
entertain the same feeling against the followers of Parisnaththe Jain temple
being regarded as much a blot upon the sanctity of Brindabun, as the mosque of
Caliph Omar is in Jerusalem. But wealth and influence have procured to the Jains
the same footing in the stronghold of Vishnuvism that the sword of the
Mahomedan conqueror gave to him in the stronghold of Christianity. It is as if
the Jains are here to contend for the palm of victory with an antagonistic religion.
They have set up their own opposing idols, have devised their own festivals in
rivalry, and have bestowed upon their temple the attractiveness of a grandeur
and affluence that attracts in and dazzles the eyes of the multitude. Indeed, the
most interesting object within the walls of the holy citythe spot which no
pilgrim can leave Brindabun without seeing is the magnificent place of Jain
worship. It stands at the end of the shaded pathway leading from Muttra, and
occupies a central position that is the freest quarter in all the town. Few temples
cover such a large area of ground. The access lies through two lofty pyramidal
gateways, peaked in the fashion of mountains, and which may well give an idea
of the stupas or mounds that abounded in ancient Buddhistic India. As strangers,
we were passing in with our shoes on. But at the second gate is posted a sentinel,
to see that no one crosses the sacred threshold breaking through the interdict of
going in with bare feet. He stopped us, and forbade our violating the sacred
prohibition. Pulling off our shoes at the doorway, we went into a courtyard in
8
Similar to the instance of Lallah Bnboo, is that of Rajah Sir Radhacanth Deb, who has arrived at an
extreme old age, that is the result of a long, sober life, and who, after exercising the influence of the head of
the Indian Society in Calcutta for half a century, has at last chosen to retire to Brindabun to spend the
evening of his days in holy meditationsas a fitting sequel to close the career of a learned man and
consistent orthodox Hindoo.
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the midst of which rises a tall gilt spire that out-tops every height in the sky of
Brindabun. The marble platform is handsomely paved, and enclosed by high
cloistered walls. Passing with the noiseless steps of stocking-feet through the
ample courtyard, and observing the numerous colonnades and pillars of elegant
workmanship, the beautiful reservoir of stone, the splendid fanes, and choirs
remarkable for beauty of proportion and variety of ornaments, we saw the whole
formed a vast and magnificent institution, but could discover no architectural
design in the execution of the buildings. Huge slabs have been cut and carved
away with various figures and flowers. Nearly ten bigghas of ground have been
enclosed by a beautiful range of cloisters. But the irregular architecture fails to
produce any effect upon the spectator. The temple is said to have taken a quarter
of a century in building, and has cost, according to the popular estimate, the sum
of a crore of rupeesthe labour and expense being well visible in the delicate
minutia of the works. It is all of red sandstone, and the idol to which it is
dedicated has the name of Rungjee. The cloisters all round are for the putting up
of the monks. On a religious fete-day in the calendar of the Jains, the shrine is
gaily illuminated, and presents a scene of dazzling brilliancy. The population of
Brindabun is then, attracted in crowds to witness the festival, but they take care
never to partake in the distribution of the food that has been offered to a heretic
god.
Further on is the villa or garden-house of the Paruckjeesa place designed to
realize the most luxurious enjoyments. The spot is as lovely and romantic as any-
thing of its kind can be. Trees, shrubs, and flowers grow there in rich luxuriance,
and as we strolled along the gravel walks and among the parterres, we inhaled
the delightful fragrance that was in the air. In the centre is a light, airy, and
elegant structure, facing a beautiful tank. The surface of the crystal waters lay
calm as an unruffled mirror. The parrots, which abound here in swarms, flew
about, enjoying the freedom of nature. The playful squirrel sported amid the
thick foliage of its favourite haunts. From the mummeries of a deformed and
degraded religion, it was a positive relief to make a tour of the garden that was
in the fulness of its verdant beauty. Life must have been intolerable in Brindabun,
if a brief hour or two could not be spent in the midst of this bewitching scenery.
Our next excursion was to the Needhoo-bun, another of the extra-holy places in
Vrij, where Krishna, alias Hui, daily used to play amorous ditties on his flute,
and flirt and sin with his Clorins and Chloeshis pastoral sultanas. No sooner
had the shades of evening closed the career of dayand if the broad moon rose
circling on the east, it was all for the betterthan he ever punctually used to
retire to this charming bower, to refresh himself from the labours of his
pasturage. He took care not to be accompanied by any of his associates in the
field. Left alone to himself, he used to be amused for a while by plucking the
choicest flowers, and weaving them into one or more garlands. Then, tired,
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perhaps, of being on his legs and strolling through the bower, he would ascend
his favourite Kudunbo tree, and, sitting thereon upon a branch reclined against
the trunk, play upon his reed to keep off his loneliness. The enchanting melodies
rang through the silent air of Brindabun. To the Gopinees, it was the signal to
quit their homes and run to his embraces. Nightly thus did harmless Kaniyafor
he had no fault of his own, it was all the fault of his music, and of Jushoda for
making him lusty with overfeeding of cream and butterchase away the
thoughts of deprived sovereignty weighing upon his mind, and none dared to
cross or read a moral lesson to him who was one day to wear a crown. One night
he stole away from the bower, to please himself with a fresh flower. Next day, he
found the whole Needhoo-bun in an uproar and Radha in a towering passion.
The warm blood of a Rajpootnee boiled in her veins. Proud of her youth and
charms, proud of her lineage and rank, she could not, without agonies of grief
and rage, see herself deserted and insulted for a rival. The other Gopinees all
made common cause with their mistress. Kaniya, putting on a melancholy and
sentimental visage and in speech well calculated to win forgiveness, pleaded his
pardon. But indignant Radha fled his presence, resolving to keep herself
confined to home from all flirtations. The hours of remorse and separation were
a severe penance to Kaniya. He lost his appetite, and left untasted the curds and
cream of Jushodas dairy. In the field, he cared not to tend his kine. In bed, he
sighed upon a midnight pillow. His wretched condition was reported to Radha.
Though not the less affected by sleepless nights and thereby inwardly disposed
to relent, she showed no inclination to patch up the quarrel without a suitable
lesson. By the mediation of the other Gopinees, it was arranged that Radha
should preside as the sultana, and Kaniya do her the homage of a penitent
subject. To play the frolic out, a seat was raised for a mimic throne under the
arborescent canopy of the Needhoo-bun. Radha put on the dress of Kaniya and
his coronet. The Gopinees stood round her, as attendant ministers and courtiers.
One of them held an umbrella over her head, while another waved a peacock-
feathered fan in semblance of the insignia of royalty. Nothing loth to act his part
in the Lamour drama, humbled Kaniya, dressed in a chobdars livery and
bearing a sword and shield in his arms, stood near the foot of the throne, ready
to execute the behests of his queen. Thus submitting to work out his penalty and
supplicate for forgiveness, and promising to give over his slips, he was once
more allowed to take back Radha in his embraces.
The Needhoo-bun is a low-walled oblong plot of ground, just in the heart of the
town, and overgrown with bushes of the pearl-tree, giving it the woodland
character of a bower. The plant is a thorny species, growing to the height of three
or four cubits, and bearing a kind of wild berry of the size of pearls. The low
interweaving branches hardly admit a passage through them, and a stranger is
bewildered by the mass of thick foliage intercepting his view. There is a tank
called the Nullita koond. Pilgrims are fond of exploring this trysting place, and,
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puzzled in the intricate labyrinth of verdure, overlook the ingenuity of man, and
acknowledge it as Loves recess, secure from all intrusion. In a corner of the
bower stands a little shrine, in which a middle-aged Byragee was reading to two
womenwidows from Bengalthe story of Krishnas amours, from the Bhagbut.
Our arrival interrupted them for a
moment. The two women looked very sentimental under their pious edification.
One of them was middle-aged, the other young enoughhaving a pair of lovely
black eyes, which she raised up as if to read us through. From a caged bird
longing to be freed, she flutters here in the sunshine of a world without the
purdah. The Byragee civilly invited us to sit down to his sermons. But the scene
and employment in which we found the party would have made our presence a
bore, and so leaving them to their business we went away on our own.
Returning to our lodge, we found it all in an uproar from the depredations of
monkeys, who are a great nuisance here, and abound in such large numbers, that
it is found impossible to keep anything safe from their pilfering propensities.
Families are constantly missing one thing or another from their apartments.
Hence the windows and doors of every domicile are protected by latticed
frameworks suspended against them. The monkeys come out in the early morn
from the gardens in the neighbourhood, and sit reconnoitring on the house-tops
to begin their purloining mission. They are noticed running or climbing upon the
walls and roofs at all hours of the day, or assembled upon .a tamarind tree in
gangs of some forty or fifty of themone fellow chatting or grinning, another
mouthing or grimacing, a third occupied in entomological research on his hirsute
neighbour, and the matrons perched secure with their families on the remotest
branches. Forgetting the caution of the landlady, our servants had exposed a
piece of new wearing apparel to dry in the sun on the terrace. It was espied by a
monkey, which came after it as soon as they had turned their backs, and
scampered off with it to a tree. The servants ran after the brute, shouted and
pelted at him, and at last showed him some food, but all in vain. The fellow sat
grimacing in an endless variety, mindless alike of the threat or coaxing, till he
had torn off the cloth in shreds. Similarly, another chap had made off with a lotah
that was not recovered. Smarting under the losses, and in a desperate rage to
revenge, the servants laid a snare, by exposing some food in one of the windows.
Soon a follow was attracted to the spot, and while in the act of drawing away the
food, he was suddenly caught hold of by the arm. The beast made a fierce
struggle to extricate himself, and by loud screeches gathered a troop of his race
to besiege the window. Luckily it was protected by stout bars, and we came in
time to apprize the servants of the dangerous consequences of their sport. Two
officers had once shot at one of these creatures, and the whole quadrumanous
tribe gathered in an army to chase them away, and pursuing them with the most
boisterous screechings towards the Janina, across which they had thought of
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making their escape, made them sink in that stream with the elephant on which
they rode. Not a day passes without children or even adults being pounced upon
for food. The most tormented of all are the fruiterers and shopkeepers. To give
an instance occurring to our own knowledge, our worthy tradesman had been
going on to a neighbour with some sweetmeats in his hands.
Not a spot in Brindabun but is consecrated by some legend. The quarter in which
we have taken up our abode is famous in Vishnuvite history as the spot of Rupa
Gossains retreat. In romantic seclusion, that retreat could scarcely have been
equalled. But the site of his holy hermitage, and the woodland scenery in which
it lay, have long given place to well-paved streets and an array of stately edifices.
There is the temple of the Rajah of Bhurtpore, which is one of the most graceful
buildings in all the town. The quarter is now known under the name of Govindo-
muhulla, from an image which Rupa is said to have raised and set up for worship.
Originally, that image lay imbedded in the earth close to his abode. The spot,
overgrown by bushes, had formed a thicket. But every day a cow penetrated into
the depths to feed the god with its milk, which flowed spontaneously from the
udders. One night the god appeared in a dream to the ascetic, and directing him
to the spot frequented by the cow, desired him to take his image out of the earth.
Rupa, duly attending to the divine injunctions, and disinterring the god, set him
up for adoration.
Out upon a fresh tour in the afternoon, as there are vet remaining to be seen
many places famous in Vishnuvite history. In Brindabun life is a perpetual
holidayyour time is all left to yourself, and you can hardly be in any other
humour than to idle, lounge, and stroll away, in the luxurious consciousness of
having nothing to do. This time to the quarters of Muddun Mohunaor he who
intoxicates with desire. The antiquity of this penate is traced to the days of Ranee
Kubja, by whom it is said to have been first set up for worship. The image had
disappeared on the fall of Muttra, and, after lying hid for many centuries, turned
up in the house of a Chowbanee, who nursed and fostered the god as a playmate
of her boy. Tired of living in obscurity under her roof, he chose to depart with
Sonatun Gossain to Brindabun, and there put himself up in his hermitage. The
Gossain built him a cot of reeds and leaves, and daily worshipped and fed him
with his own humble fare. In time, the indifferent food upon which the hermit
chose to live palled on the taste of the god. It became impossible for him to relish
any cookery prepared without salt. To improve the savour the Gossain procured
a little of the desired condiment. He was next told to get up more luxurious
dishes of buttery and saccharine preparations. This was impossible for a man
who depended for his livelihood upon precarious beggary, and he told the
epicure god to look about himself for the means of Sarclanapilitic banquets. It
happened that a merchant was coming down the Janina in a boat laden with
goods for sale at Muttra. The vessel struck against a sandbank, and got high and
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dry upon land. Coming to grief on an uninhabited shore where no hands could
be procured to float the boat, the merchant extremely bewailed his loss. Landing
to see whether any chance existed for help, he came to the shrine of Muddun
Mohuna, and, falling prostrate before the god, invoked his aid by promising to
devote the profits he might reap to his services. Thus propitiating, the merchant
went back to his vessel, and found it to glide down safely to its destination. The
sale of the goods realized a profit beyond his expectations, and, faithful to his
promises, he built a temple to the god, and endowed it with funds necessary for
a decent support. The monument of his piety still exists to confirm the story, and
the deity who performed the miracle in his favour, has been exalted to rank in
the trio of gods dominant in Brindabun. Multitudes of pilgrims repair from far
distant lands to offer gifts at his shrine, and prostrate themselves at his altar in
the earnestness and sincerity of an undoubting faith in his incarnate godship. But
the image of the seductive lover of Radha and the Gopinees is distinguished only
by a difference of nomenclature, and not by any specific peculiarity of sculptural
workmanship. His old templea colossal structure of red sandstoneis more a
curiosity than Muddun Mohuna himself. The real penate established by Sonatun
Gossain is now at Jeypoor. The old temple is now a deserted sanctuaryand
topless, like the Maun-mundeer.
Muddun Mohunas quarters are upon a tila, or eminence, that does not seem to
be a natural formation, but an accumulation of the rubbish of the old city that
existed before the Mussulmans. High upon the brow of this tila, had Sonatun
chosen his abodethe old temple occupying the very site of his hermitage. They
show his sumaj or tomb in this locality. Rupa and Sonatun were two brothers
originally Mahomedans, and known under the names of Dabir and Kashash.
They were both high functionaries on the staff of Syud Husseinbeing ministers
to that Viceroy, in the Court of Gour. The two brothers renounced their Prophet,
and became followers of Vishnu, under the guidance of Choitunya. They left the
viceregal court of Bengal to embrace a life of poverty and abstinence, and proved
to be eminent members of the sect of the modern Byragees. From Mahomedans
and ex-ministers, they rose to be pious Gossains, and the heads of the Shomaj at
Brindabun. Their names are very sacred in the annals of Choitunyaism.
The spot from which Choitunya held reconnaissance of Brindabun, and the
tamarind tree under which he sat, are shown in this neighbourhood. The
hallowed spot is marked by the prints of his footsteps; which are much too small
to be genuine, being of the size of the feet of a boy of eight or ten yearsan age
too tender for preaching a religion, or inaugurating an anti-caste movement, and
making converts from Mahomedanism. The footprints are not of stone, as
elsewhere, but of woodresembling a pair of common sandals. The tamarind
tree is also suspiciousit is now in the prime of its growth, and does by no
means look to be three hundred years old.
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Nee-koonj-bun. This again is another trysting place, in which Krishna used to
make himself snug with his Racllia. The god is said yet to haunt the favourite
spot, and the rustling of leaves heard in the dead of the night, is ascribed to his
nocturnal strolls through the bower. In a little room here is seen a bedstead with
quilts and cushions. This is gaily adorned every evening with flowers, garlands,
and nosegays, and after vespers is left with closed doors. Next morning, the bed
is found pressed and disoidered as if somebody had been sleeping there, the
flowers strewn upon it squeezed and crushed, and the nosegays out of their
places. No man dares intrude here after nightfall. Many years ago, an individual
tarrying concealed in the gardens to pry into the mysteries, was found dead the
next morning. On another occasion, a second man had hazarded the same
espionage, and the result was that he became crazed, and lost the powers of his
speechhis mouth closed against any impious revelation. In the present
appearance of the Nee-koonj-bun, not a vestige can be recognized of the superb
description of the Bhagbut. The shrubberies and walks, the boughs and foliage,
the flowers and evergreens of all kinds, that made it the very region of romance,
and which have been so minutely described in the immortal verse of Joydeva,
exist no longer. The lovely Nee-koonj-bun the delicious garden in which Love
trod the primrose path of dalliance is now a mere sun-beaten field, rank with
grass and weeds, and swarming with monkeys. The stubborn earth bears no
traces of the scenes that have passed upon its surface. The garden is enclosed by
a low fence. There stands in it a single tree, remarkable for its bark being knotted
like the sila, and reverenced as the identical tree on which Krishna used to hang
his lute. Nearly all the branches have dropped off, the trunk has got shrunk and
lean, and, bent down by age, is almost prostrate with the ground. To all
appearance, the tree induces a belief of great antiquity.
Baka-Beharythe largest image in all Brindabun, and the especial god of the Vrij-
basheesthe others being of the Bengalees. He has no Radha by his side. They
had tried once, twice, and thrice, to place an idol of the goddess by him; but the
god threw it away each time, disgusted with a sham. He is said to spend all the
night with the real Radha, and does not get up from bed till nine in the morning,
which is the fixed hour to open the door of his shrine. It is really surprising to see
with what apparent devotion all ranks, and ages, and sexes flock and kneel to
this statue. Regularly, towards sunset, the greater part of the Vrijbashee
population turns out to see here the ceremony of vespers. It is a beautiful picture
to behold the courtyard then thronged with Vrij-maee women, in their flowing
drapery and long veils, waiting till the door of the temple should be opened. No
sooner the time comes, than a rush is made for entrance, and the crowd is carried
almost headlong into the body of the temple, amid vows, and whispers, and
prayers, from every mouth. Near the doorway stands a monk to receive the gifts
of the pilgrims. As we had chosen to lag behind rather than commit the
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ungallantry of rubbing shoulders with women, and as our dress marked us out
as different persons from the crowd before us, the superior ordered a passage
and place for us at the head of the shrine, expecting a better contribution. But he
must have been a good deal scandalized, at our being on legs while all others
prostrated themselves before the image; and also at the broad laugh with which
we replied to his recital of the story of the freakish god to kick and cuff away the
doll of a Radha from his bed. We had never heard of such an incident in the
history of Krishna, nor in all probability has the reader; but the Vrij-bashees in
Brindabun have a great deal more of such knowledge than they gain from the
Bhagbut.
Radha-rumun Originally a Sila or Saligram, and worshipped by Gopal Bhutto
Gossain. The image is a miracle, having burst forth from the Sila and assumed
the present form, in order to wear the ornaments and clothes which a wealthy
pilgrim had brought to the shrine. In proof of the veracity of the story, the Sila is
seen yet attaching to the back of the image. The unsculptured and spontaneous
form is regarded as typical of bona fide Krishna in his perfect godship; and well
may his followers, the females especially, madden in the vision, and say:
Appearedst thou not to Nunda in this guise
Or to more deeply blest Gopinees?
One by one, nearly all the principal sights and scenes consecrated in Vishnuvite
history had been seen, till night put an end to our round of visits to the holy
places. But in a tour of the antiquities of Brindabun, there is, we fear, great
occasion for scepticism with respect to the authorities on which the sites of the
holy places have been identified. Very grave suspicions arise as to the site of that
Brindabun itself, the holiness of which is so much dwelt upon by the Bhagbut. It
is mentioned, that to remove to Brindabun, the shepherds of Gokul collected a
large number of carts to carry the women and children. No allusion exists as to
any boat for transportation across the Jumna. Nothing like a river is mentioned
to have interrupted the progress of the emigrants to their new abode. May it not
have been that the Jumna had a different course in the age of Krishna from that
in our age? In that case all hypothesis is defied to identify the site of Brindabun.
Here, at any rate, we are in the hallowed lands of the Bhagbutand. far from all
cavil and scoff, we would fain have the slightest evidence for the foundation of
the faith which has inspired with pious hopes more than fifty generations of
Hindoos. But the pilgrim who comes animated by the fresh and almost the virgin
feeling awakened by the perusal of the Shasters, to see whether the objects
hallowed by high and holy associations be true, will feel himself grievously
disappointed to find those hallowed objects, or at least what are pointed out as
such, to have little conformity with the descriptions given in the sacred books. If
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he does not come to find more pleasure in believing than in raising doubts his
faith is severely tested. Much is learnt from personal observation that dissolves
away the charm. Idle legends of later days are found mixed with references to
Bhagbut history. Most of the holy places pointed out in Brindabun, and adorned
and transformed by the false but well-meaning piety of the Vishnuvites, have no
better claim to authenticity than the credulity of a weak and pious old woman
Doubts had arisen in the mind of Choitunya, and he had got up on an eminence
to take in a survey of Vrij. The prospect lay before him just as nature had left it.
There was no relic spared by the desecrating hand of man to confirm the
localization of a holy spot. He was unwilling to take things as he found them,
and loth to perpetuate a deceit. But however he may have taken pains to guard
himself against deception, his determined enthusiasm must have had a great
deal the better of his earnest piety. Proofs of trickery and falsehood are
constantly peeping from under the disguises put upon many of the objects,
destroying the interest with which the pilgrim would otherwise have looked
upon them. Though the Vishnuvites would have us believe that the distinction
between the sign and the thing signified is never lost sight of, still no man in his
fatuity can overlook the consequences to society. It is common to hear of the
attraction and fascination of the sights and ceremonials at Brindabun. But as to
the great majority of sights, it must be confessed, that all we obtain for our labour
is the knowledge that they are not worth seeing; though this is a knowledge that
no one is willing to receive upon the authority of another, but would have it from
his own personal experience. In our case, the barefoot tour of the temples only
gave us sore feet. There is nothing particular in the feet of Muddun
Mohuna, or in the breast of Gopinath, which in Vishnuvite opinion are regarded
to bear an exact resemblance to the feet and breast of Krishna. The face of
Govinjee has no charms for us, though Ersha, Bujros mother, may have taken
her veil at its exact similitude to the face of her father-in-law. No scene of
miracles interested usno ceremonials produced any effect upon our minds. The
reader has not any wondrously-edifying tale to hear from us. Vishnuvism has for
its basis only a single act of the great and eventful drama of Krishnas life, and its
scenes are as tiresome as turning upon Ixions wheel. Amid all the doubts and
confusions that present themselves for reflection, the only thing that is sufficient
for our enjoyment of those scenes is to know that we are in the memorable land
of Vrij that we are treading upon a soil, and breathing in an atmosphere, which
have been trodden upon and breathed in by Krishna: and under the crowd of
associations that press upon the mind, we give ourselves up to the illusion which
it is far more agreeable to sustain than to dissolve. No Young Bengal can so far
overcome the prejudices of his education as not to feel a sentiment of disgust at
the representations got up to commemorate the adventures of Krishna. In
constructing a formal doctrine out of a poetic idea, in preferring a state of loving
faith to mere prayers, Vishnuvism has added moral to physical causes, in making
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the nation more voluptuous, and aggravating the condition of India. There is no
exposition of undefiled Hindoo faith more beautiful than the last words of
Sancara. Infidel as Hume was, his last moments were indulged in imaginings of
Charon and his boat. Idolatrous as the great Shivite controversialist was, the last
saying he has left on record is, O Lord, pardon me the three sins committed by
meI have by contemplation clothed thee with a shape, who art shapeless; I
have in praise described thee who art indescribable; and I have ignored thine
Omnipresence by visiting the Tirthas or pilgrimages to shrines.
November 4. To speak religiously, Brindabun is the rich kernel in the shell of
Vrij. Topographically, it must rank as a third-rate town, being not larger than
Burdwan or Hooghly. It may beat those cities by a gayer appearance, especially
in an imposing river-frontage, but it is decidedly inferior to them in wealth. Not
a trace is retained of its ancient pastoral features. There are luxuriant groves
about it, but you do not hear any of the lowings of cattle, or the bleatings of
lambs, or the pipings of the horn. The men and women are no longer shepherds
and shepherdesses. Now and then, there may turn up the tall figure of an old
white-bearded gentleman, exactly as the patriarch of the imagination, and
looking precisely as you would paint Nanda or Upananda. But he does not bear
a crook in his hand, driving the several flocks before him. The women have fair
fascinating faces; but they sit winnowing or grinding corn at a hand-mill, rather
than browsing trine on the river-bank or turning the curd in the dairy, to which
they were accustomed of old. Far from any pastoral scene of Bhagbut account
meeting your eyes, Brindabun, as it now is, presents a town of stately edifices, in
which the population may be estimated at twenty thousand inhabitants, and in
which you have to thread through narrow, tortuous streets, of the mountings
and turnings of which it is impossible to give an idea. Grain, ghee, and sweet-
meats seem the principal trades. There are also a good many shops, in which
copper and brass vessels, woollens, chintz, and Manchester calicoes are exposed
for sale. But no meat or Mussulmansno prostitutes or grogshops: Hennesy and
Martell are shut out from the jurisdiction of Kaniya, as opium is from China,
though perhaps his coz Buldeo would connive at the smuggling of a bottle or
two for his entertainment. In not a few of the shops they drive a thriving trade in
toys, images, breviaries of toolee-beads, and brass-prints of Heris name and. feet.
The toys and images consist of the figures of Krishna and Radha, of various
kinds of animals, of tumblers, cups, and saucers, all carved from Jeypore marble.
This morning we had been to purchase a few cheap mementos of the place, and
among others, preferred to buy a nice white marble milch-cow, as if from
Krishnas fold. They also sell here small pictorial illustrations and we took
fancy to a Nee-kooj-bun affair, in which Krishna is entertaining Radha with his
lute under the embowering shade of a dark tamala, while a peacock is at gambols
in the foreground. This was enough to keep us Brindabun-haunted.
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Nearly all that has been said about the Chowbays, might apply to the Vrij-
bashees. Of the same race, manners, and pursuits, they are relatively the same as
one pea is to another. But the Vrij-bashees are a more pastoral people than their
richer brotherhood of Muttra. There is marked in the former a primitive
simplicity and purity a temperance and abstinence, a contented poverty and
contempt for luxuries, which to this day sustain the poetry of the land of Vrij.
They cultivate no learning, and practice no professionpreferring to be the
tenants of miserable mud cabins, and to be cold and hungry, if they can get to
luxuriate in bhang, and drown their cares in a bowl of that precious drug. To
them, Brindabun is a land flowing with milk and honey, and the cheapness of
living encourages the listless indolence in which they waste the day from sunrise
to sunset. The Vrij-bashee is literally bred to a sing-song life. His simplicity,
however, is without any taint of boorish rusticitynothing is more polished than
the language he speaks, and nothing more refined than the urbanity he shows to
the pilgrims. There are about 3000 Vrij-bashees, out of which 200 families follow
the profession of Pandas. The Vrij-bashees are Dobaystheir brethren at Muttra
are Chowbays. The principal business of a Panda is to keep a look-out for pilgrims.
In Brindabun, the society forms a dead level of commonaltythere is no grade of
high aristocratic life nor any of low squalid pauperism. The whole business of
the place is in the hands of outsiders. The Byragees of Bengal form a large item in
the population; and their shaven heads, sleek forms, and lascivious eyes, meet
you at every corner of Brindabun. Regarded as inter-lopers, they are not looked
upon with a friendly eye by the Vrij-bashees. The one is insincere and
mischievous the other frank and confiding. The Byragee is as touchy as tinder.
He takes fire as quick as his godand a pair of black eyes is at any time enough
to put mischief in him.
As much as a Jew is repulsive and a Jewess attractive is a Vrij-bashee
distinguished from a Vrij-bashinee. Nothing presents so great a contrast as the
poor slovenly appearance of the gents, and the delicate features and the
brilliantly fair complexion of the ladies of Vrij. Though brought up in poverty
and destitution, the women possess a grace and dignity which would warm the
coldest heart to admiration. The great charm of their appearance is an exceeding
gentleness, united with affability and elegance of manner: in fact, there is a calm
and quiet loveliness about them that would make any of them dangerousa
loveliness that is matter of history, and immortalized in poetry:
The angelic youths of old,
Burning for maids of mortal mould,
Bewildered, left the glorious skies,
And lost their heaven for a womans eyes.
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The certain softness that is in the air they breathe, and the sentiment there is in
the religion they follow, bring on a disposition to gaiety and wantonness, and the
daughters of Vrij cannot but be ardent, impassioned, and enthusiastic in love.
They dress themselves in the gayest costume. The sons, on the contrary, never
have but winking eyes, and a dull, muddled brain, under the eternal influence of
bhang. It must not be supposed, that husbands and wives are to be found very
fondly and faithfully attached to each other. In Brindabun, as in all religious
places.
They do let Heaven see the pranks
They dare not show their husbands.
That our Bengalee ladies may go and return thence without infection, may well
form a matter of serious apprehensionfor it is to the female virtues that we
should look, not only for the happiness of our homes, but also for the support of
that national character, which has always led to national greatness. It is a pity to
see many of the fairest faces ruined entirely by pox-marks. Coloured apparel is
mostly in fashion, and that this may not be wetted daily is the reason why the
Vrij-maees have their Eve-like ablutions in the stream. A maid can scarcely be
made out from her mistressthey dress themselves so alike, and come tinkling
with the toe-rings along the streets. No question, that in the fashion of the
Bengalee and Vrij ladies dress, the advantage is for once much on the side of the
latter. In public, the women go muffled to the eyes, observing a great propriety
of mannersno dissolute air no studied look no flaunting dress, no lascivious
gait, and no expressive glances that seemed to wander in search after those of the
men, such as had met the eyes of Telemachus amongst the fair Cyprians of his
day. But in the house there is a perfect absence of all concealment and a greater
enjoyment of freedom than is found by the inmates of a Bengal zenana. By a
passing traveller little more can be said of the various classes of Indian women,
beyond the broad distinctions which fall under his glance. But not more are
Desdemona, Rosalind, Imogen, and Ophelia, the creation of one brain, than are
the Chowbaynees, Vrij-maees, Mahrattanees, and Bengalinees, daughters of the
same family, with a general resemblance, and an individual discrimination.
Coming shoeless and in a silken corah dhooty from his bath in the river, and
looking very like the personification of a Gentoo Bishop, our lawyer was this
morning kneeled and bowed to by an old woman in the streets.
Far different is the story of our tradesman. Failing to have out-monkeyed a
monkey, he has since been in a mighty rage, and meditating to have his revenge
upon a Vrij-bashinee. He was for no less a game than to besiege the heart of a
pretty young lady, who resided directly opposite our lodge. He got into the
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humour this morning to catch a few glances from that lady. But she seemed little
disposed to respondand so missing fire he had to give up the conquest.
The ex-Rajah of Hatras is putting up at Brindabun. He is the son of that Jaut chief
who is known under the name of Davaram Thakoor in the annals of modern
India. In a building, pleasantly situated upon the bank of the Jumna, and
commanding on the other side a prospect of the sacred groves of Belbun, in
which Luehmee is yet praying with folded hands to her lord, is he quietly
spending his days content with his pension and poojah. Passing by his house, we
saw the Rajah to be a middle-statured, fair-complexioned, and noble-looking
man, of more than fifty. He has shaved clean the head which could not wear a
crown. Nothing can be more dull and monotonous than his life, and none but the
most sluggish or the most philosophic nature could endure it. He is a
philosopher by compulsion, and dozes away his existence in one unvarying
round of prayers, and meals, and sleepunbroken even by a fitful dream. The
caged or cabled parrot quietly eats away his gram. The state-prisoner, bound in a
nutshell, and counting himself king of infinite space, quietly eats away the
pension which has been assigned by a generous Government after the manner
of those open-handed thieves of fiction who fling back a couple of broad-pieces
to the traveller, whom they have eased of his purse and watch. Our strange faces
attracted his notice, and he gave us a glance which denoted the speculation that
was still in his eyes.
No learning now-a-days in Brindabun,no learned men, nor any real hermit,
all men think too much of eating and pleasures. Pundit Rangachari Swami is an
exception to our remark. He is a great scholar in Vishnuvite literature.
The procession of a Byragee in a trance, quite deserved to be made the subject for
a penal lesson. It was quite outrageous to the feelings, to see simple women
eagerly come out of their houses to kiss and take the dust of his feet, who in the
streets of Calcutta would have been picked up as drunk and incapable, and taken
to the lock-up. Far from being in seraphic raptures, he must have been on a spree
from an over-dose of bhang, and he was being paraded along by two of his
brethren, rather as a sacred object than a shameless hoax. No Vrij-bashinee
thought it worth her while to take notice of himshe is too wide awake to be
taken in like the Byragee women by such shams.
The antipathy to the Bengalee was never so apparent as during the rebellion. For
once, the sluggish but hungry Vrij-bashee had been then roused to look with a
scowling eye upon the Bengalee, and forget his debts of gratitude in the hopes of
power and pelf. There was pointed out to us a lad of ten or twelve years a young
fry of treacherywho had for two days roamed about the streets threatening to
cut the throats of every Bengalee in the land. The fellow is not put out of
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countenance by being reminded of his bravados, but laughs and grins at your
remark. He is for his age a well-developed and plucky chap, who augurs to be
goonda hereafter he hath no drowning mark upon him, his complexion is
perfect gallows. The panic and privations of those days could never have been so
well depicted to us, as what we saw in the appearance of a pilgrim who had
returned home from Brindabun immediately after the mutiny. He was cut off
from all help and communication like a cast-away in Timbuctoo. Not a penny
reached him for three years. From a plump man, half-rations had thinned him to
emaciation, besides his life hanging by a brittle thread under a drawn sword
over the head. Indeed, so great was the degree of spareness to which he had been
reduced, that his breast-bones stood out most prominently, and the skin of his
dried-up stomach seemed to touch the very backbone. The troubles written upon
his frame are indelible in our memory.
Few objects that we have seen in Brindabun will be remembered by us hereafter
with such pleasing reflections as the old Bengalee of ninety-six. Life is agreeable
to be protracted to the full term of years allotted to man, if it were not subject to
the shocks that occur in a long career. At his age, a man must outlive all feeling
and affection, and is no better than the wreck of a withered tree from which all
the branches have disappeared. His last childa widow daughter of about sixty,
who had come up to live with and serve her aged fatherdied two years ago,
and he is left alone to eke out the few last days of his life. He has been only
dwarfed by age, but is not sans eyes and sans ears. He walks, bathes in the
Jumna, cooks his own food, prepares his own chillum, and reads the greater part
of the day from the text-book of the Shasters. His means do not allow him to
afford milk, and he is thence gradually failing in strength. Hearing of the arrival
of some of his countrymen, he has walked nearly half a mile to see us. It is now
forty-five years since he left Calcutta, to wander through various parts of India.
In the capacity of a clerk belonging to the Commissariat, he was at the siege of
Bhurtpore in 1825, travelled through the Punjaub, and has been as far as
Peshawar. During the last fifteen years, he has quietly settled himself at
Brindabun, and is now afraid to move out anywhere lest he should miss the
chance of laying his bones in that holy place. He is really the oldest inhabitant of
common parlance, and is an almanack of facts in the history of three generations.
Though for half a century an exile, and neither expecting nor wishing to revisit
the world, the thoughts of home yet sometimes rush on his heartit is difficult
to measure the feeling which binds a man to his native land. His meeting with us
was to him a most welcome incident, and he sat up to a late hour chatting over
the tales of olden times. He has adopted the habits of the people amongst whom
he lives, and cannot do without a cap on his headit being with the up-country
wallahs an ill omen to see a naked head the first thing of all in the morning. He is
not born of parents remarkable for living to a green old age the secret of his own
great longevity is sobrietya steadiness like the undeviating course of the sun.
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It is precisely the time at which one should come to Brindabunthe season of
gaieties, when hundreds of pilgrims arrive for the great festivities of the holy
month. To a Natuk in the evening. The court-yard of a principal shrine had been
hung over with a rich awning. Hundreds of lamps burned on all sides to
illuminate the scene. The ample space was thronged by a picturesque audience of
turbaned Vrij-bashees squatting on the floor. The Virj-maees in parti-coloured
dresses sat beneath the cloisters. In the centre of the square was a raised dais, on
each side of which stood two boys in livery, holding two torches in the true
Hindoo mode of lighting. The subject was Radhica-Rajah in the Nedhoo-bun.
High on the dais sat a lovely boy in a superb female garb, but with a coronet on
his headpersonating the heroine of the theme. The other principal actor on the
stage was Krishna, as a page. Upon the whole, the performance struck us as
something novel. It had the merit of being midway between an English play and
an uproarious Bengalee Jatra. The Chowbays of Muttra and the Vrij-bashees of
Brindabun have considerable reputation as vocalists; and the effect of the
modulated and deep tones of the adult blending with the clear treble of the
juvenile performers, while the time is marked by the cymbal or the soothing
monotony of the tabor, accompanied occasionally by the murali or flute, is very
pleasing. The movements of those who personate the deity and his fair
companions are full of grace, and the dialogue is replete with harmony. It was
indeed a great novelty and treat to hear Krishna in melodious Vrij-bulithe
language most probably of the ancient Yadas. Radha had an arch smile on her
face, and Krishna a penitential visage. It is a pity, however, that Krishna is all in
all in BrindabunKrishna in the temples, Krishna in prayersKrishna in
sculpture and paintingKrishna in drama and in dreams. Though there is a
perceptible emotion in the audience, there is no applausethe spectators sit by
in silence, and burst forth in no plaudits or acclamations of Hurrybole as in Bengal.
There is now a spirit of reaction in the Indian drama. People in Calcutta are
intent upon an improved Hindoo theatre.
The dramatic literature of Bengal has already been enriched by the play of
Surmista. It is not known under what scenery, and decorations, and style of
acting, the pleasing drama of Rutnavali, or the Necklace, used to be enacted by
our ancestors in the seventh century at the court of Harsha Deva of Kanouge. But
we have seen the character of Sagarika played in the Belgachia. The scenic
representations were an innovation that transported the spectator to ancient
Kosambithe scene of the play. There is another native gentleman of fine taste
and accomplishments, and splendid opportunities, who is directing his efforts to
introduce a new phase in Hindoo music, and his decided success in infusing a
tone of spiritedness into our effeminate national airs has become a subject for
general imitation in the metropolis.
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Finishing his tour of Brindabun, the pilgrim has to complete the circuit of the
holy land of Vrij by visiting the other spots in which Mythology has placed her
most pleasing fables. The traveller may explore them for archaeological research
into the antiquities of an interesting people. Taking a country-ruth, and placing
yourself under the escort of your Panda, you should trace back the way to
Muttra, and make a short cut to the sacred groves of Modhoo-bun and Tal-bun
noted for being the scenes where Krishna pastured kine veritably like Beatties
Edwin and Buldeo caroused, himself, with fermented palm-juice for shout and
revelrytipsy dance and jollity Radha-koonda holy place referred to in the
Bhagbutis famous for three tanks. The one sacred to the memory of Radha has
been beautifully enfaced all round with steps of stone by Lalla Baboo. It is
remarkable to find the water of this tank crystally pure; while that of the
adjoining Sham-khoond is of light indigo, resembling the azure complexion of
Krishna; and, side by side again, that of the Nullitta-koond to possess a milky
whiteness. They show on the embankments of the Sham-koond, the cell in which
Kristodoss composed his Choitunu-charita-merta the great text-book of the
modern Byragees. There are five trees which are pointed out as the
metamorphoses of the five Pandoo-brothers. The country hereabouts is quite
pastoral with the numerous herds of grazing cows and buffaloes, and orchards
and topes of mango. The people also are simpler and poorer than the Vrij-
bashees. They are quite content to pasture their cattle, and live upon their slender
subsistence of wheaten bread. Neither starvation nor disease can compel the
monkish community to quit the holy place of their abode. The village is not half
so large as Brindabun, and has less than one-fourth the population of that town.
Four miles from Radha-koond is Goverdhun, the hoary and holy mount connected
with the richest associations, and beheld with an absorbing interest. The Greeks
had their Olympus and the Hebrews their Sinai the Jains have their Parisnath,
the Shivites their Kailasa, and the Vishnuvites their Goverdhun. The Christian
pilgrim in Judea sees Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and then goes to Sinai. The
Vishnuvite pilgrim in Vrij sees Muttra and Brindabun, and then goes to
Goverdhun. It is a sublime idea to erect altars to the Almighty upon the
pinnacles of his mountains.
The scenes of many of the incidents recorded in the Bhagbut are extremely
uncertain. Antiquarians may differ as to the site of Muttra or Brindabun, but of
Goverdhun there is no doubt. This landmark of nature has remained unchanged
through all vicissitudes, and is the first tangible monument to furnish evidence
in favour of resuscitated Vishnuvism. The mount uplifts its head from the level
of an alluvial plain, and extends ten miles long, running north, south, and
southwest. It is impossible to describe the singular appearance of this ridge,
which is believed to be a fragment of the Himalayas dropped by Hunumanits
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lonely and isolated position may well originate such a legend. But it must be a
mere pebble compared with the giant from which it has come. They say the ridge
was once twenty miles longten of which has disappeared under-ground. It was
then high enough to have cast its shadow as far as Muttra. There may be some
truth in this, as the rocks look to have been made higher than they are, and their
summits, worn and weakened by the action of the elements, have crumbled and
fallen, strewing the country immediately around them with fragments. The
whole mount is said to have been on one occasion taken up by Krishna on his
little finger, and held as an umbrella over the heads of his cattle, his fellow-
townsmen, and his favourite milkmaids, to defend them from an overwhelming
deluge of rain. But it is not necessary to draw upon false and frivolous legends to
give interest to the scenethe majesty of nature is enough. No more do the
Europeans paint Atlas with a globe on his shoulders, than do the Indians paint
Krishna with Goverdhun on his little finger.
The popular version about the origin of this range of sand-stone hills at
Goverdhun is, that Luchmun, the brother of Rama, having been wounded by
Ravana, the demon king of Ceylon, his surgeon declared that his wound could
be cured only by a decoction of the leaves of a certain tree, to be found in a
certain hill in the Himalaya mountains. Hunuman volunteered to go for it; but on
reaching the place he found that he had entirely forgotten the description of the
tree required; and to prevent mistake, he took up the whole mountain upon his
back, and walked off with it to the plainsa mountain upon the back of the men
of former days, was no more than a bundle of grass upon the back of one of the
grass-cutters in the present day. It was night when Hunuman passed Goverdhun;
and the lamps were seen burning in a hundred towns upon the mountain he had
upon his backthe people were all at their usual occupations, quite undisturbed.
Left as a regent, Bhurut, the third brother of Rama, then happened to be in
Goverdhun. He saw Hunuman passing with the mountain, and, thinking him to
be one of the king of Ceylons demons about mischief, let fly one of his arrows at
him. It hit him on the leg, and as he made a false step, the sudden jerk caused
this small fragment of his huge burden to fall off. In his agony he called out Ram;
Ram from which Bhurat discovered his mistake. He went up, and with kind
attentions sought to relieve his pain. Learning from him the object of his journey,
and fearing that his wounded brother Luchmun would die before he could get to
Ceylon with the requisite remedy, he offered to send Hunuman on upon the barb
of one of his arrows, mountain and alla more expeditious mode of travelling than
through the Pneumatic Tube of our day. To try him, Hunuman seated himself with
the mountain upon the barb of the arrow, as desired. Bhurut placed the arrow to
the string of his bow, and drawing it till the barb touched the bow, asked
Hunuman whether he was ready. Quite ready, said Hunuman; but I am now
satisfied that you are really the brother of our Prince, and regent of his kingdom,
which was all I desired. Pray let me descend, and be sure I shall be in time to
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save your wounded brother. Bhurut let him pass on, but he remained lame for
life from the wound. This accounts very satisfactorily, according to popular belief,
for the halting gait of all the monkeys of that species: those who are descended
lineally from the general, inherit it of course; and those who are not, adopt it out
of respect for his memory, as all the soldiers of Alexander contrived to make one
shoulder appear higher than another, because one of his happened to be so.
Hunuman reached Ceylon with his mountain, the tree was found upon it, and
Luchmuns wound curedleaving behind him the small but insignificant
fragment, on which the town and temples of Goverdhun now stand.
Goverdhun, says Sir William Jones, is the Parnassus of the Hindoos. Indeed,
taking Krishna for Apollo, the Gopinees for the Muses, and the Mans-gunga a
large beautifully infaced tankfor the fount of Castalie, it out-and-out justifies
the comparison. One may not become an inspired poet here, but a desperate
inamoratoeither of which, for a professional man, is a catastrophe to be
avoided.
Many are the hallowed localities in and around the mountain the great holy
object which is the centre of attraction for most pilgrims. The present town
stands upon the belt of rocks, about two miles from the northern extremity. It is
of small size, and scanty in population. The inhabitants are in a great measure
Brahmins, supported on the endowments annexed to the tombs of the Jaut
Rajahs of Bhurtpore and Deep, whose bodies are burned and their ashes
inhumated at this town. The sides of the mountain are covered with dwelling-
houses, temples, and tombs; and while the summits present nature in her wild
form, the bases are adorned with all the beauty of architecture and artof tanks,
orchards, and gardens, forming a most pleasing scenery. In little cells, there
reside many a monk, who spend the day and night in ascetic abstraction, and
whom no temptations of the world will draw out from their retirement. There is
nothing of interest in the modern city of Goverdhunits history is connected
with the past. The traveller may stand at the foot, and imagine Indra pouring
down his vials of wrath in a deluging rain, while Krishna lifts up the mountain to
hold it as an umbrella; or wander through the narrow streets to mark the spots
where he frisked with the milkmaids, and spent his days among cattle and trees.
Besides the interest attached to this place by reason of its great antiquity, and the
many holy events of which it has been the scene, it is to be remembered also for
being the place where Lallah Baboo ended his days in a cave, that is pointed out
to you among other curiosities.
Little can be added by us to the warm tints of description that have been lavished
upon Goverdhun. The principal temple upon the mount is dedicated to Krishna
under the form of the infant Gopala. The image is typical of a child crawling on all
fours, with a pera in his right arm. This form of worship was first introduced by
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Bullubha Acharya, who must have been influenced to do away with the legends
that scandalize Vishnuvism in the eyes of its adversaries. His followers form a
separate order from the Byragees of Choitunya. Indeed we are inclined to think,
that many of the adventures and miracles commonly attributed to Krishna form
but a mystified account which Vishnuvism gives of its own reverses and
triumphs. The holding up of Goverdhun against Indra, the replacement of the
cattle stolen away by Brahma, and the destruction of Kaliya-Nag, are not
incidents in the early life of Krishna, but in the history of the early progress of
Vishnuvismbearing a reference to its infant struggles with Indraism,
Brahmaism, and the ophiolatory Naps. In like manner, the flirtations with the
Gopinees are many of them pure inventions that were regarded by Bullubha to
disgrace the purity of his religion. Libraries of comment have been written to
explain the text of the Bhagbut, and sects have branched off according as a
master-mind has interpreted that work. But the true meaning has yet to be found
by resolving the various legends to their real significationand then would our
nation possess something like a true biography of Krishna.
Of Goverdhun, the especial holiness is owing to its being the first scene of
Krishnas apotheosis. It was upon this mount that the first image had been raised
to his worship under the name of Goverdhun-nauth. The idol had to be secreted in
a cave from falling into the hands of Mahmud and lay forgotten for many
centuries, till discovered and reinstated by Bullubha. Hence, his lineal
descendant forms the high-priest of Kaniya. The great annual mela of Anna-coot at
Goverdhun, first instituted by Bullubha, generally takes place in this month of
Karteeck. Formerly, the seven principal gods of Vrij used to meet on this
occasion in rendezvous at Goverdhun, till they were obliged by Aurungzebe to
disperse themselves in various directions, and to various distances. To this day,
not less than a hundred thousand people assemble on the occasion of the festival.
It celebrates a pastoral incident in the life of Krishna, and throughout all Vrij the
horns of the cattle are painted red with vermillionin one instance we saw those
of a cow bedizened with silver-leaf.
In the midst of the town is the handsome tomb of Runjeet Sing, who defended
Dhurtpore so bravely against Lord Lakes army. The tomb has, on one side, a
tank filled with water; and on the other another, much deeper than the first, but
without any water at all. The cause assigned for this is, that Krishna one hot day,
after skying with the milkmaids, had drunk it all dry; and that no water would
ever stay in it, lest it might be quaffed by less noble lips. Inside the dome of
Runjeet Sings tomb, the siege of Bhurtpore is represented. Lord Lake is
dismounted, and standing before his white horse giving orders to his soldiers.
On the opposite side of the dome, Runjeet Sing, in a plain white dress, is
standing erect before his idol, at his devotions, with his ministers behind him. On
the other two sides he is at his favourite field sports.
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The tomb of Suraje Mull, the great founder of the Jaut power at Bhurtpore,
stands on the north-east extremity of this belt of rocks, about two miles from the
town, and is an extremely handsome building, conceived in the very best taste,
and executed in the very best style. With its appendages of temples and smaller
tombs, it occupies the whole of one side of a magnificent tank full of clear water;
and on the other side it looks into a large and beautiful garden. All the buildings
and pavements are formed of the fine white sandstone of Roop Bass, scarcely
inferior either in quality or appearance to white marble. The stone is carved in
relief, with flowers in good taste. In the centre of the tomb is the small marble
slab covering the grave, with the two feet of Krishna carved in the centre, and
around them the emblems of the god, the discus, the skull, the sword, the rosary.
These emblems of the god are put on, that people may have something godly to
fix their thoughts upon. It is by degrees, and with a little fear and trembling,
that the Hindoos imitate the Mahomedans in the magnificence of their tombs.
The object is ostensibly to keep the ground on which the bodies have been
burned from being defiled; and generally Hindoos have been content to raise
small open terraces of brick and stucco work over the spot, with some image or
emblem of the god upon it. The Jauts here, like the princes and Gossains in
Bundelcund, have gone a stage beyond this, and raised tombs, equal in costliness
and beauty to those over Mahomedans of the highest rank; still they will not
venture to leave it without a divine image or emblem, lest the gods might
become jealous, and revenge themselves upon the souls of the deceased, and the
bodies of the living. On one side of Suraje Mulls tomb is that of his wife, or some
other female member of his family; and upon the slab over her grave, that is,
over the precise spot where she was burned, are the same emblems; except the
sword, for which a necklace is substituted. At each end of this range of tombs
stands a temple dedicated to Buldeo, the cousin of Krishna. The inside is covered
with beautiful snow-white stucco work, that resembles the finest marble; but this
is disfigured by wretched paintings, representing, on one side of the dome,
Suraje Mull, in Durbar, smoking his hookah, and giving orders to his ministers;
on another he is at his devotions; on the third, at his sports, shooting hogs and
deer; and on the fourth, at war, with some French officers of distinction figuring
before him. He is distinguished by his portly person in all, and by his favourite
light-brown dress in three places. At his devotions he is standing all in white,
before the tutelary god of his house, Hurdeo. In various parts, Krishna is
represented at his sports with the milkmaids. The colours are gaudy and
apparently as fresh as when put on a hundred and eight years ago; but the
paintings are all in the worst possible taste and style.
Nothing less than that it is the personification of Krishna himself, is the opinion
in which Goverdhun is held by his followers. There are devout votarists, who
perform the circuit of the mount, by going round its base, prostrating themselves
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at each step on the way, and marking the space covered by their bodies. This is a
vow, or penance, which is not completed but in several years; and we have heard
of one who has been able to go round but half the mount in seven years. Nobody
dares to bring home any stone from Goverdhunit is said to be endued with life.
People who choose to do so are overtaken by calamities, and obliged to send
back the stone to the mount. The creeper-mango is a plant which deserves to be
mentioned in the botany of Goverdhun.
In Judea, they show a stony field in which the beans have been changed into
stones by a curse of the Virgin. In Churan-paharee, they show the prints of the
footsteps of Krishna,and of the hoofs of his cows and buffaloes pastured on the
cliff. The holy petrifactions were caused by the obdurate rock having melted at
the music of his flute, and thence taken an impress of the feet and hoofs. It seems
the wild suggestion of a dream to imagine that Krishna had stood on the very
same steps,but there are facile-minded happy mortals who question not that
they have existed from the date assigned to them. The Luka-Luki, or Hide-and-
Seek tank, near this cliff, speaks of the early age of that game among the Hindoos,
played by Krishna with the Gopinees.
Kammya-bun, the famous scene of the incidents of the Vana Purva of the
Mahabarat, is really a classic spot for the reminiscences of the Pandava brothers.
During the period of their exile and wanderings, brought on by the loss of their
patrimony sustained at the gaming table, they chose to take up their quarters in
this spot, then a very secluded and romantic wilderness. Here they were visited
by their great friend Krishna, and beguiled by holy sages with the consolations of
their philosophy. The remains of sixty-four stone pillarsto all appearance
ancient, but very doubtfulare shown as a part of the building in which they
used to perform their Yugyas. The ashes of those ceremonies are still remaining in
a large heap. Five wooden images of the pandoo, or pale colour, are observed here
to stand for the five brothers. But the puny size of the images belies the great
heroes of the Mahabarat. None of its ancient features is retained by the place; but
while its name lives in the verse of the poet, will the pilgrim bend his steps to
Kammya-bun.
The cliff of Burshana was the abode of Rajah Birhobhanoo, the father of Radha.
He was prince in a pastoral country, where people possessed their wealth in
flocks of cows and buffaloes, sheep and goats. The vestiges of his fortress are
seen in walls of huge slabs piled on each other in long lines. Crowning the cliff is
a temple, which is ascended by a noble staircase counting four hundred steps,
built, a few years ago, by a pious Baboo of Calcutta. In one of the rooms is seen
Radha mourning to herself in her lone widowed heart under separation and
disappointment. The adjoining chamber is occupied by the Duenna
sage Burrayee, her maternal grandmother. Near the foot of the cliff are observed
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large life-sized statues of her parents, Birshobhanoo and Kritika, and of her
brother Sreedam.
Next to Nanda-gaon, remarkable for having been the seat of Nanda, under whose
roof Krishna had been brought up in concealment. They have erected to his
memory a life-sized, wooden statue with the clothing and turban of a modern
Vrij-bashee. Likewise, there is a statue of his wife Jushodaa big matronly lady.
The statues are replaced on decay, as they have been recently done. Here is
shown the cradle of Krishna, preserved among the treasures of the place,as
also the dairy from which he used to steal milk and butter in his infancy.
Passing on towards Seyee, is reached the ancient boundary of Vrij, marked by a
pillar like the stile of Theseus between Ionia and Peloponnesus. Thence to the
Jumna, which is crossed near the real Bushtur-hurun ghaut, and the scene of
Brahmas stealing the flocks.
The next place of note is Mahavan, the Rajah of which had submitted, and been
favourably received by Mahmood. But a quarrel arising between the soldiers of
the two parties, the Hindoos were massacred and driven into the river, and the
Rajah, conceiving himself to be betrayed, destroyed his wife and children, and
then put an end to his own life. In Mahavan, the principal image is dedicated to
Buldeo, whose name and worship may be suspected to have been derived from
the Baal of the Assyrians and Babylonians. The complexion of Buldeo is white,
and that of Krishna black or azure. It is an ethnological question raised by
Sleeman, why Krishna has an African, and Buldeo a Caucasian or Aryan
countenance. That the former was aboriginally descended by his mothers side is
a partial answer to that question.
Gokul is almost an island of the Jumna, and one of the prettiest spots in the holy
land. The scene here is as pastoral as it had been three thousand and five
hundred years ago. Large herds of heavy-uddered kine remind us of the days of
Nanda,though their number is far short of nine lacs, possessed by that
shepherd-chief of old. Krishna had been brought over to this place to be
concealed from the knowledge of Kunsa. He is worshipped in a large building
under the representation of a wee thing in his swaddling clouts, with several toys
before himthe playthings of an infant. The statues of Vasudeb and Devaki, in
another apartment, are certainly out of place in this town. Long had the original
image of Gokulnath lain unnoticed in a ravine on the invasion of the
Mahomedans, till in the sixteenth century it was taken and set up by Bullubha
Acharya. The self-same image had again to fly from the persecutions of
Aurungzebe, and is to this day an exile from Vrij. But an idol has been
substituted in his room, which now forms the principal object of worship. The
Gossain who enjoys the honours and advantages of being his high-priest, is said
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to be a descendant of Bullubha. He is a young man of about twenty and of a
swarthy complexion, whom we saw to go to bathe in Huard, riding upon an
elephant. In Gokul are still pointed out the marks of the ancient Pootna-khal. The
haggard Pootna had been sent by Kunsa to take away the life of Krishna. She
came under the guise of a nurse, with poison on her nipples; but the infant god,
not more than seven days old, gave such a pull at them that she dropped down
dead. In falling she resumed her real shape of a she-demoncovering no less
than six square miles: and it took several thousand swains of Gokul to drag her
corpse to the river, cut her up, and burn her, to prevent the pestilence that must
have ensued.
From Gokul back again to Brindabun. The pilgrim has now gone over all the ground
consecrated by the pasturage, the miracles, the sports, and the loves of Krishna.
He has seen all the hallowed places of the Bhagbut, to see which it is his business
to come to this holy land. It is time for him now to pack up and return. Taking a
farewell stroll through the town, and paying off our rent to the landlady, we
made haste to start by sunset. The tradesman has only one regret that he could
not catch a glance from the lady of his heart. The thirsty doctor has kept away
from grog for a period, which he does not remember to have ever done since the
dawn of his senses. The lawyer has not one feeling of regret to quit a land in
which money has to be expended and not madein which love-suits take the
place of law-suits. The scholar was full of rhymes and farewells in his head for
the Vrij-bashees and fair Vrijbashinees. Three ruths and as many carts had come
to take us away and our baggage. Before the door of our lodge had gathered a
large crowd of Pandas and beggars. The scene of leave-taking was as full of stir
as it had been in the days of Krishna and Buldeothough, like them, we bad not
to leave behind us a single Vrij-bashinee to pine after us. It was nearly an hour
after gloaming, and as we were mounting the ruths, to turn our backs against
Brindabun, a policeman came up, and repeating his stories of robberies on the
way, warned us to abandon the idea of travelling in the night. He said that the
country was in a distracted state, that scarcity of food was driving men to
desperation, and that our heavy train of baggage might tempt hungry people to
break through the restraints of law. Indeed, the country now bore a rather
suspicious character, and we had no mind of trusting ourselves to the tender
mercies of a Jaut bandit. But we were unwilling to turn aside from the path in
which we had fairly started, and arranging ourselves to go in a compact party
mustering twelve people in number, we did not think it would be foolhardy to
proceed in the teeth of the advice we received. Two of the Pandas volunteered to
reach us half way to Muttra. It was past ten when we got safe into that city
making, perhaps, after all, a lucky escape from the perils on the roadto sit with
a hearty appetite to the supper prepared by our medical friend, and to take his
leave that very night to return to Agra.
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CHAPTER III.
November 5th, 1866.THE tale of our journey has now arrived at a point where
the thread of further narrative must be resumed exactly six years afterwards. The
indulgent reader, who, like Dinarzade, may be anxious to know what befell us
next, must prepare himself for a leap over the space of time intervening between
the years 1860 and 1866. Happily the month and date happen to agree by a most
singular coincidence the month being the same in the calendar, and the date
exactly following the one at which we have broken off. The scene, with which the
present chapter has to commence, opens at Toondla Junction,with the high road
to Delhi lying spread before the view in all its length. In the interval of time
which has elapsed, the great pathway that was making has been completed and
thrown open to the public. Through that pathway men now travel with a speed
and safety, defying all the marauding tribes of India. From Toondla then let us
start,turning our face to the quarter towards which the fiery-footed steeds of
Phoebus gallop apace with his car. Scarcely less fast speeds on our earthly
courser, making his track in minutes and hours through regions, each of which in
days gone by had formed the separate territory of an independent chief, but
which have been now all consolidated into a vast unity under one supreme head.
By a bountiful Providence have the seasons been so regulated this year, as trebly
to compensate for the scarcity of that which has just gone by. The country on our
tract spreads mile after mile in smiling fields, with cultivation up to the road-side.
Literally, it is one vast garden from the sea to the mountains.
The first place of note on the route is Hatrasdistant about six miles from the
station. From a den of robbers and thugs, it has now become one of the busiest
and most thriving places in Upper Hindoostan, and a principal mart for the
cotton and indigo of the neighbouring districts. The old fortress of Dyaram
Thnkoor is now all in ruins. In 1817, that stronghold had a ditch ninety feet wide,
and seventy-five feet deep. There had been collected within its ramparts no less
than five hundred pieces of ordnance. The Jaut chief, who from a petty zemindar
under Scindia rose to be an independent prince, had strengthened his defences in
imitation of the English fort at Allyghurh, with all the latest means and
appliances of war. To reduce his castle, the British had to muster the most
tremendous artillery which had till then been employed in India, and to burn an
enormous quantity of powder. Old Dyaram, finding the place too hot for him,
made his escape in the darkness of night, and kept himself in concealment for
three years. He was at last compelled by hunger to seek the protection of the
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English, and dying a stipendiary, bequeathed his pension to the descendant who
is rusting in oblivion at Brindabun.
From Hatras to Coel-Allygurh, the journey by rail now takes less than an hour.
Coel must be one of the most ancient places on the map of India, as its name
indicates it to have been derived from the aboriginal Coels or Coles of the ante-
Aryan period. In the days of the Mahabarat, Jarasindh had led up an army and
encamped on this spot, to revenge the death of his son-in-law, Kunsa, by an
invasion of the territories of Krishna. No doubt exists of its importance in the
twelfth century, when it had a fortress that was captured by the Mussulmans.
The country around is a level plain, but the town appears to be built upon an
elevation, a fine road leading up to it from the station, with a gradual ascent.
The town seems to be considerable and populous, but has little attractions or
antique curiosities for the traveller. He is here again more among brick-houses
than of stones, which have to be brought from a great way off. The finest feature
is a mosque, the domes and minarets of which rise in prominence to break the
monotony of a prospect, tame and vacant in the highest degree. This mosque is
remarkable as an ancient and noble specimen of Patan architecture. It being the
season of Dewallee, there is a rubbing and scrubbing and washing and painting of
all the Hindoo houses in the town. Dancing-girls, abounding in numbers
exceeding all expectation, are all busy in preparing themselves for the occasion.
In one small lane, we heard them practising their tunes and airs from a dozen of
shops. They certainly betray the place to be marked by all the vices of an indolent
Mahomedan town the Mahomedans seeming to anticipate the Houris of their
Paradise upon earth.
For a long period of years, the country about Coel was notorious for robberies
and murders. In Akbers time, heady of peasant robbers, suspended on poles
along the road, met the eyes of the traveller. Happily, the robbing trade has
become slack, and a very different state now prevails. The Mahratta free-booter,
the murderous Patan, and the Jaut bandit, have settled down to an agricultural
life, and honest labour has superseded lawless rapine as an occupation. The
district is not only tranquil, but prosperous. Nearly halfa-dozen screws are now
working at this place, to send down cotton in half-screwed bales. But it is the
Hindoo who appears to be engaged in all the active pursuits of trade. The
profligate Mahomedans are sunk in an effeminate indolence, which is the cause
of their raggedness and decay throughout the country. Let the alien die out the
victim of his own religionwhich makes him three parts a ruffian, and the
fourth part a voluptuary. The debauchee who will not reform must perish.
Coel is the ancient native name, Allyghur the modern. The place is noted for the
mud-fort of Monsieur Perron, Scindias Commander-in-Chief. In its day, that fort
had a fausse deep enough to float a seventy-four, and wide, in some places four
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hundred feet. It was taken by Lord Lake in 1803, and dismantled by the orders of
Lord William Bentinck. The fort is now in ruins, and overgrown with jungles
lying about two miles from the town. From an humble sailor, Perron rose in the
service of Scindia to attain that command and power which enabled him to lay
the foundations of a virtual French State in the valley of the Jumna. This rival
State was ominous of growing with its growth, and strengthening with its
strength. The Marquis of Wellesley could not sleep a sound sleep haunted by this
nightmare,and he resolved to smoke Perron out of the land. And literally
smoked out he was by a few whiffs from the British artillery, which battered
down his fort, shattered his State, and sent him out of the land for ever. It is well
that an end was put to this French State in embryo. The fickle and freakish
Frenchman has no genius for consolidating an empire, which India wants. If he
had step into the shoes of the Great Mogul, India would have been brought up in
sans-culotism under a galling chain of gilded despotism. The Indian then would
have been rakehelly after the manner of his conqueror. Under French rule, the
staid Hindoo would have been a strange animal with many a vagary in his head.
To this day, the words Bourbon and Bonaparte set two Frenchmen to make each
other bite the dust,how little could their own distractions have allowed them
the time to look after the welfare of two hundred millions of human beings.
Doubtless, the French acknowledge, but fail to act up to the necessity of
accommodating the institutions of government to the progress of information. It
may be questioned whether there is more tyranny in France than in India. The
conquered Indian is happy to have no bit in his mouth, to speak out his
grievances. It is necessary for us to appreciate correctly the character either of the
French or the Russian. If it be the will of Providence to have a yoke upon the
neck of our nation, our nation should in the ripened maturity of its judgment
discriminate and prefer the yoke of the English to be the least galling. Nothing
less than British phlegm, and imperturbability, and constancy, and untiring
energy, could have steadily prosecuted the task of consolidating the disjointed
masses of India, and casting her into the mould of one compact nation. They
want but the high thoughts seated in a heart of courtesy to attach us to their rule,
with a feeling of loyalty that, not merely playing round the head, should come
near the heart.
Allygurh has all the appearance of recovering slowly from the shock of a heavy
blow. It has lost much of its consequence by the Rebellion, which has swept
away many of its inhabitants. Howsoever a Moslem may pretend to doze, no
sooner he finds an ill-wind blowing, than he is upon his legs to recover his status.
The turbulent Mewattees form here a large element in the population, and came
out yelling and brandishing their swords which had rusted for many a day in
their scabbards. There was an old Bengalee Baboo, who had left home in his
youth as a vagabond run-a-away, and chosen to settle here, rising from a petty
Dawk Moonshee to accumulate property, and buy large estates. His sons are yet
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carrying on three saltpetre refineries and twelve indigo factories. On the first
alarm of the mutiny, the Baboo sent away his women for safety to Brindabun,
disguising them as beggar-maids, and making over to their care the most
valuable jewels to carry away under their blankets. The poor Baboo himself, who
was waiting for the next opportunity to fly, happened to be caught, and was
bound and tortured for money. He supported the agonies of his punishment
with the most patient resignation, but died in two days from starvation and
much mental racking. The task of quieting Allygurh had been made over to a
most energetic Hindoostanee Teshildar, who felt no compunctious visiting to
drive in scores out of the world those who had sinned beyond the bounds of
forgiveness.
November 6th. Got up at four in the morning to catch the first up-train to
Delhi, starting at about sunrise. The starry sky was the great dial in which we
read the hour from the position of the armed Orion just over-head. In that silent
hour, the songs of a siren Baijee came in rich distilled music wafted on the air.
The sound of matin rites also rose from a Hindoo temple in this Mahomeden
town. But the train did not arrive till ten in the morning. Took our breakfast with
the Baboo who is placed in charge of a hospital here. Met an European
gentleman on the platform of the station, who was also bound for Delhi. Long
talk with him about the Governor-Generals coming Durbar, about his own
travels in Rajpootana, about the Rajah of Jeypoor and the skilful management of
his territories, about the heat of India affecting his health, about the income of
Native attorneys and pleaders, and about his willingness to take service after
nothing-will-do-by speculation.
Khoorjah, a considerable town, though little of it is seen immediately on the road-
side. The official return of its population is near twenty-five thousand. During
Lakes campaign in the Doab, there was a fort here garrisoned by Perrons force.
The town has given up all its martial pursuits for the occupations of commerce.
Hundreds of bales of cotton lay piled on the platform of the stationcotton that
is untainted with any slave-gore, and which Christian Manchester might buy
with a conscientious heart.
Passed by Boolundsher and thence on to Secunderbad. The next station is Dadree.
How all along the way the sight of a rich crop on the groundg laddened our
hearts,coming as we did from famine-stricken lands where thousands were
perishing of hunger. Through these parts of the country runs a branch of the
great Ganges Canal, designed to secure 3,320,000 acres from the effects of
drought. The large tumuli, spoken of by Russel, are neither the remains of brick-
kilns nor mortuary heaps, but simply elevations of land on which the villages are
built in a swampy country.
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From Ghaziabad there remained fourteen miles of ground to go over to Delhi.
This space was rapidly cleared as we were carried onward and onward by an
engine of a hundred-horse power. Far off in the hazy distance, towards which
the sun was approaching to close his career rose a tall and tapering object
shooting into a blue pure skyit was the Kootub. Near and near as we advanced,
became visible the great dome of Hoomayuns tomb. The eye then caught a
glimpse of the Jumna, and beyond it lay full in view with its mosques, minarets,
towers, and palaces, extending to a great distance along the bank, the city to
which we had looked forward for many a longing year.
Delhi, which conjures up a thousand associations, is, perhaps, the most
renowned city on the globe. Babylon or Balbec, Palmyra or Persepolis, Athens,
Carthage, or even the imperial Rome itself, are the most celebrated theatres for
acts of the human drama But the hanging gardens of Babylon were the wonders
only of a few generationsthe city of Solomon threw an enchanted lustre over
the deserts of Syria for a limited number of yearsthe glories of ancient Iran
perished with the destruction of Persepolisand the magnificence of Carthage,
once swept away, lies ingulfed in irretrievable ruin. The eternal Rome excepted
there is no other place which enjoys so great a celebrity as Delhi. Its fame is as
early established, as it has been the longest perpetuateda fame extending
almost in an unbroken continuity through a space of time embraced by more
than three thousand years. Founded in the fifteenth century before Christ, it was
known under the name of Indraprastha to countless generations of Hindoos. In
subsequent ages it became celebrated for being the abode of the Great Mogul,
who was for a long time regarded less as a real potentate than as a myth of
Scheherzades tales. And in our own times, it has happened to be the scene of
memorable events, which, a few years ago, made its name almost a household
word in every mouth upon the globe.
But how the charms of illusion fade away before stern truth, that recalls us from
our reveries to the realities of the scene before us. Our journey drawing to a close,
the train discharged such numbers of all classes of people, travellers, merchants,
shopkeepers, gentlemen of elegant leisure, invalids, and speculators, as will have
a sensible effect upon the manners and customs of the men in these places. The
road beneath the platform was thronged by a dense crowd of coolies, sweetmeat
vendors, and hooka-burdars, running and hawking about in all directions.
Carriages of various description but all included under the common name of
buggies, lay waiting to be engaged by the passengers. The dust, loosened by the
tread of steps, was flying about to make big folks turn up their aristocratic noses.
The flies of Delhi lagged not behind to give a sample of their welcome to the
stranger, by attacking his ears, eyes, nose, and mouth most inhospitably. Our
patience would have given way under the strain put to it, were there not faces to
peep from behind the purdahs of ekkas faces of females whom the rash
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innovator, Rail, had drawn out from the seclusion of their zenanas, to throw
them upon the rude gaze of the public. The hookah, too, came to our relief after
six long, long hours,the poor hookah, or cheroot, or pipe that is in such awful
un-popularity with the Railway authorities, and threatened by their highest
penal denouncements. Hiring a gharry, and taking in it all our luggage and
baggage, that made us feel about as comfortable as one is in stocks, we
proceeded,pulling at, and puffing away from, a hubble-bubble to keep off the
unceremonious fliesto make our entry into the city of the Great Mogul in a
right earnest Mogul style. Before us intervened the Jumna, spanned by a bridge
of boats, similar to which there existed one in the days of the Timurean princes.
The beautiful railway bridge through which the train is to ride hereafter direct
into the city, is nearly complete for being thrown open for traffic. Forsooth, that
iron-bridge is as it were the reality of Xerxes chain and rod thrown over the
proud Jumna. Oh! ye shades of Judisthira, Bheema, and Arjoona, with what
pious horror must you look down from your blest abodes, upon the impious
bridge that binds and lashes the waves of that classic stream.But poetry has
had its reign, and science now must hold her sway for the comfort of wayfaring
men. It was not our blessed fortune to be able to go across through that bridge,
though it might have been profaning the memory of our ancestors by hurrying at
once most unclassically right into the heart of their city. Greatly to
our .disappointment, our gharry had to go rumbling over the bridge of boats
towards the grand donjon of a giant keep that frowns over the flood. The jolting
of the carriage had well-nigh caused us a serious loss, if a package that had
dropped from its top had gone into the river. Passing by the guard-house that is
stationed to levy a toll, and mounting to the height on which the city stands, we
at last found ourselves within its battlemented walls, and fairly on the soil of
O Della! My country! City of the soul!
The orphans of the heart must turn to thee,
Lone mother of dead empires and control
In their shut breasts their petty misery.
What are our woes and sufferance! Come and see
The cypress, hear the owl, and plod your way
Oer steps of broken thrones and temples, ye
Whose agonies are evils of a day
A world is at our feet as fragile as our clay.
The Niobe of nations! There she stands,
Childless and crownless, in her voiceless woe,
An empty urn within her witherd hands,
Whose holy dust was scatterd long ago;
The Pandavas tomb contains no ashes now;
The very sepulchres lie tenantless
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Of their heroic dwellers: dost thou flow,
Old Jumna! through a marble wilderness?
Rise, with thy azure waves, and mantle her distress.
This is an apostrophizing into which a Hindoo by birth and antecedents is likely
to fall, as all the associations connected with the interesting ground press upon
him and come home to his heart. It is impossible for him to stand upon the
classical soil, and resist conjuring up the ghosts of the departed Pandavas, and
hold converse on their own ground with Vyas heroes. But for a little while he
may cling to the illusions of the past, till the mystery is dissolved, and truth
breaks in to disenchant the scene before his view. Ile has little time to meditate
upon what Delhi was, and what she now is. Old things are passing away, and all
things are becoming new under the name of improvements. The hallowed
associations of ancient Indraprastha have all faded away. This may be regretted
and mourned over, but cannot be helped. The world is marching onward, and,
before long, Delhi shall claim our attention with objects and events of the latest
hour. As travellers, whose bones were aching from a long journey, and who had
fed upon a scanty meal in the morning, the idea of lodging and supper was
rather prominent in our reveries, and we worked our way through crowded
streets, stared at by all men, towards Nil-ka-katra, to go to a banker, to whom we
had a letter of introduction. The reader may probably condemn us for such a
trifle uppermost in our thoughts, but so it was; and when we found ourselves
under the roof of a comfortable two-storied building, and a complaisant
gentleman asked us what we would have for supper, and showed us our beds
for the night, we almost agreed that indulging in a classical humour suited better
to boys just out of college than to matter-of-fact-minded men.
November 7th. Of the sights of Delhi it is impossible to say nothingand it is
difficult to say anything new. There are two modes of seeing them: the
topographicalwhich is to go through them as they fall in your way, jumbling
antiquities, medievalities, and modernnesses into a salgamundi. The other is
chronologicalwhich is to go regularly from the house of Pandoo to that of the
last Mogul. The latter had our preference,and off we hied to the Pooranah-Killah,
or old fort, to begin from the beginning, and not to write, like the Persian, from
the right to the left.
Three epochs, three sovereignties, and three civilizations, combine to form the
mingled yarn of Delhis history. The Pandoo, the Moslem, and the Briton,
encounter each other on the same ground. The place was first a temple, then a
mosque, and has now become a church. In each point of view it is an object of
regarda place thrice sacred with reminiscences for the traveller. To go through
his sight-seeing, in a chronological seriatim, he should first of all drive down to
the Pooranah-Killah, or Indrapat, in which tradition still preserves the name of
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ancient Indraprastha. The way to this spot lies through a waste of ruins that
realize the graphic description of Heber A very awful scene of desolation,
ruins after ruins, tombs after tombs, fragments of brick-work, free-stone, granite,
and marble, scattered everywhere over a soil naturally rocky and barren, without
cultivation, except in one or two small spots, and without a single tree. The old
bed of the Jumna is traced in passing through this chaos of ruins. That river
appears to have formerly flowed upwards of a mile to the westward of its
present channel, and along its right bank had Judishthira built his capital of
Indraprastha. The site of that famous city is now some two miles from modern
Delhi. Indraprastha was one of the five pats or prasthas
9
which had been
demanded by Judishthira as the price of peace between the rival gurus and
Pandavas, and which old Dhritorashtra gave away as a slice from his kingdom to
sop his would-be turbulent nephews. The principality assigned to them was a bit
of forest-land, then known under the name of Khandava-vana. Content, as all
fatherless and disinherited orphans are, to make a start with this small
assignment, the Pandavas set to building a town on it for their capital. This was
about fifteen hundred years before the Christian era, when, far away by the
shores of the Egean, Cecrops was building Athens, destined, perhaps, as twin
cities, to shed their glory over the East and West.
10
The Mahabarat has but a few words to give us an idea of ancient Indraprastha.
The town is described to have been fortified by being intrenched on all sides, and
surrounded by towering walls. A beautiful palace contributed to adorn the infant
9
The five pats which still exist, were Panipat, Sonpat, Indrapat, Tilpat, and Baghpat, of which all but the
last were situated on the right or western bank of the Juruna. The term prastha, according to H. H. Wilson,
means anything spread out or extended, and is commonly applied to any level piece of ground, including
also table-land on the top of a hill. But its more literal or restricted meaning would appear to be that
particular extent of land which would require a prastha of seed, that is, 48 double hands-full, or about 48
imperial pints, or two-thirds of a bushel. This was, no doubt, its original meaning, but in the lapse of time it
must gradually have acquired the meaning, which it still has, of any good-sized piece of open plain.
Indraprastha would, therefore, mean the plain of Indra, which was, I presume, the name of the person who
first settled there. Popular tradition assigns the five pats to the five Pandu brothers.Cunningham.
10
The date of the occupation of Indraprastha as a capital by Judishthira may, as I believe, be attributed,
with some confidence, to the latter half of the 15th century before Christ. The grounds on which I base this
belief are as follows:- 1st, That certain positions of the planets, as recorded in the Mahabarat, are shown by
Bentley to have taken place in 1424-25 B.C., who adds that there is no other year, either before that period
or since, in which they were so situated. 2nd, In the Vishnu Purana it is stated that at the birth of Parikskita,
the grandson of Arjuna Pandara, the seven Rishis were in Mugha, and that when they are in Purra Asharka,
Nanda will begin to reign. Now, as the seven Rishis, or stars of the Great Bear, are supposed to pass from
one lunar asterism to another in 100 years, the interval between Parikshita and Nanda will be 100 years.
But hi the Bhagavata Purana this interval is said to be 1015 years, which, added to 100 years, the durations
of the reigns of the nine Nandas, will place the birth of Parikshita 1115 years before the accession of
Chandra Gupta in 315 B.C., that is, in 1430 B.C. By this account the birth of Parikskit, the grandson of
Arjuna, took place just six years before the Great War in B.C., 1424. These dates, which are derived from
two independent sources, mutually support each other, and, therefore, seem to me to be more worthy of
credit than any other Hindoo dates of so remote a period.Cunningham.
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city, which gradually attained to eminence, and became the seat of learning,
genius, and art. Merchants frequented from different quarters for the purposes of
trade, the city rose in affluence, and bore glorious testimony to Judishthiras
versal supremacy.
11
Nobody needs to be told that the towering walls now
surrounding Delhi, as well as the fort and palace within their precincts, are other
than those referred to by the poet. In its present form, the Poorana-Killah is
altogether a Mahomedan structure, and there does not exist a single carved stone
of the original city of Judishthira. But the spot is classic ground in every inch, and
stands before us covered with the glory of ancient deeds. Here stood the citadel
defended by the Gandiva of Arjoona,but now occupied, perhaps, by the Keela
Kona mosque of Hoomayun. There, probably, was the chamber in which the
Pandava brothers held council with Krishna and Vyas,but on which now
stands the Shere Mundil, or the palace of Shere Shah. Yonder may have been the
spot on which was erected the great hall of Rajshuy Yugnyaa political ceremony
resembling the levees and durbars of our modern Viceroys. Never was there such
an august assemblage of the Rite of old India. The occasion had been graced by
the presence of a hundred thousand Rishis, together with all the crowned heads
of the realm. There were princes from Cashmere and Camboja beyond the Indus,
from Anga and Assam, and from Bungo and Berar, to do fealty to the sovereign
head. Rich diamonds and pearls,gold that had been watched, perhaps, by the
fabled Yacsha,valuable brocades and other choice specimens of silk,curious
iron and ivory manufactures,weapons of different variety, invented by the
military genius of the ancient Hindoos,furs and feathers of great rarity,and
horses and elephants, are mentioned to have been brought by the Rajahs for
presents in token of their allegiance. In the midst of all the gaze and admiration
of the assembly was that inestimable diamond on the royal crown, which in our
ages is known under the name of Koh-i-noor, Judishthira was no myth. The coins
of his time have been discovered. His era was in all records and documents prior
to the Samwat of Vicramactitya. But there is not a stone, or broken column, for the
New Zealander of Macaulaya being long before anticipated in the foretold
Yavana of our Puraniststo sit upon, and moralize over the evanescence of great
cities, and cast horoscopes of empires. He wanders sorrowfully, and bethinks
him of Indraprastha, that once triumphed in existence, and promised itself
immortality. His imagination paints that city to have covered the banks of the
Jumna for several miles, to have been fortified by many a tower and battlement,
and to have sheltered within its walls large numbers of a busy populationa city
in which the nobles dwelt in splendid palaces, and were clothed in the richest
products of the loomin which envoys and ambassadors paraded the streets in
chariots, and upon elephantsin which heroes were nursed in amphitheatres to
perform the most daring exploitsin which poets celebrated the deeds of
warriors, and sages discussed the most erudite points in philosophyand in
11
Rev. Bannerjees Encyclopedia Bengadensis.
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which flourished the arts and sciences that gave the leadership of the human race
to the Aryan Hindoos, and left in their hands the development of the civilization
of mankind. But over these the hand of irrevocable time has spread a pall never
to be lifted, and the race, who acted all this glorious drama, has passed away,
leaving very little upon record to tell the tale of their times, for the Hindoos
either never had, or have unfortunately lost, their Herodotus and Xenophon.
Indraprastha was a city of which posterity can now hardly trace the site. The
only spot that has any claim to have belonged to that ancient city is a place of
pilgrimage on the Jumna called the Negumbode Ghaut. Popular tradition regards
this ghaut as the place where Judishthira, after his performance of the Aswamedha,
or the horse sacrifice, celebrated the Hom.
12
The position of Negumbode is
immediately outside the northern wall of the present city. There is held a fair
whenever the new moon falls on a Monday. It is said to be held in honour of the
river Jumna The stream has receded from the steps of the ghaut, and there grow
on its top a few shady trees. The traveller, in coming up the bridge of boats, has a
view of this ghaut on his right.
Sleemans story of a full-grown fly sitting upon Judishthiras dish of rice, and
prognosticating the approach of the millennium, is all bosh. In Delhi, flies then
must have been as much a plague as now. The rooms are full of them. They
attack you in countless myriads, and there is no respite for their annoyance.
Domitian is perhaps emulated here in every household.
In vain did Hoomayun try to do away with the name of Indrapat, and substitute
that of Deen-pannah. None but pedantic or bigoted Mussulmans make use of this
name. The common people either called it Indrapat or Pooranah Killah. Neither
could Shere Shah have it called after him as Sheregurh;the voice of tradition is
not easily silenced. Historians state that Hoomayun repaired the old fort of
Indrapat. In that case, there must have been ancient foundations on which the
present massive walls and lofty towers have been built, and it rests with the
antiquary to investigate whether any such foundations really exist, and might
not be traced to the age of Judishthira. The Pooranah Killah, as it now stands, is
nearly rectangular in shape, and its walls are over a mile in circuit. There was a
ditch round it, once communicating with the Jumna. The fort had four gates, one
in the middle of each face of which the south-west gate alone is now open. This
gateway is ornamented, as are other parts of the battlements, with encaustic tiles.
Inside the walls, the space is filled with huts,and a petty Mussulman Izardar
12
Local tradition contradicts the Mahabarat, which states the Aswamedlia to have been performed at
Hastinapoor on the Ganges. The Nerumbode may be the spot where Pirthi-raj celebrated his Aswamedha.
But it had acquired a sacredness from before the time of that prince, and was a place of resort where his
grandfather Visa] Deva had put up an inscription to transmit the fame of his conquests.
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now lords over the ground on which stood the citadel and palace of the
Pandavas.
It was getting near the hour of breakfast, and nothing would have made us so
glad as to have found out the famous kitchen of Dropudee, and seen some
vestige of its ancient luxury. But the principal object that now meets the eye in
the interior of the Pooranah Killah, is the Keela Kona mosque, said to have been
commenced by Hoomayun and completed by Shere Shah. This mosque has five
horse-shoe arches, decorated with blue tiles and marble, and is a favourable
specimen of the architecture of the Affghan period. It is in capital preservation,
with the exception of the central arch, the work on the top of which has been a
good deal ruined. The Keela Kona is perhaps one of the most tasteful mosques in
or near Delhi, and is remarkable for its richly inlaid work and graceful
pendentives. The prevailing material of the centre arch is red cut sandstone and
black slate, and towards the ground white marble and black slate; the carving
throughout being very ornate. The two side arches are composed of simple red
stone, picked out with yellow glaze and black slate finely carved; the outermost
arches are still plainer in construction, the outer walls changing from red to grey
stone. Under the archways are the entrance arches that of the central arch being
of beautiful marble, which throughout the building has, strange to say, preserved
its purity and whiteness. The mosque, however, is fast going to pieces, and, if
some steps are not taken, decay will soon set its broad mark on this fine structure.
There is a massive grandeur about the interior which cannot but strike the visitor,
who should not fail to remark the great thickness of the blocks of stone which
form the stairs leading to the roof, from whence there is a fine view. There is no
regular road from the gateway of the- fort to this building, and the better plan
would be for the tourist to leave his conveyance outside the fort, and proceed on
foot to visit the mosque.
The Shere Mundil is another object. It is a lofty three-storied octagonal building
of red sandstone, built by Shere Shah for his palace. On Hoomayuns re-
accession to the throne he used this building as a library. The interior seems to
have been once richly-decorated with paintings of flowers, of which there are
now few traces remaining. In this building it was that Hoomayun met with the
accident that terminated in his death. He was engaged in study, and, hearing the
call to prayers from the neighbouring mosque, rose suddenly to hasten there, but
his staff slipping, he fell down the stairs, and injured himself so seriously that he
died in a few days.
There is not a more interesting spot in India than the city of Judishthira. We
could have lingered there for hours, whiling away our time in contemplation of
all that was great, and noble, and beautiful in the history of our nation. The
heavens were unclouded, and the sun was beaming in his full refulgence. No-
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thing could exceed the quiet beauty of the scene around usall was as beautiful
as when Vyas sang its praises. The plain, and the rocks, and the river were the
same; but the once magnificent city, its citadel, and palaces, were gone for ever,
and no remains were left to tell the passing traveller of her fallen greatness. It
was near mid-day when we bade farewell, perhaps for ever, to Indraprastha, and
turned our backs to retrace the way to our lodgecarrying, deeply impressed on
our mind, the melancholy sentiment of the transiency of every sublunary
possession.
To the old Hindoo City of Delhi next. Indraprastha and Delhi were two different
cities, and situated about five miles apartthe one on the Jumna, and the other
on a rocky hill to the south-west in the interior. Thirty princes, in a regular lineal
descent from Judishthira, succeeded him on the throne of Indraprastha, but,
excepting their names, little more has been recorded of them. The last of the
Pandoos was Kashemaka, who is said to have been dethroned, and put to death,
by his own minister. The name of this usurper was Viserwa, with whom
commenced a line of fourteen princes, who held the sceptre for about 500 years,
and the last of whom happened to be deposed in a manner analogous to that
which had first put the dynasty in possession of the throneas if Nemesis had
resolved to retaliate the treachery of the progenitor upon the last of his race. Next
followed the dynasty of the Goutama-vansas, who commenced their reign with
Maharajthe Maharaj, most probably of Feristhaand continued for fifteen
generations down to Ultinai. Line after line succeeded to the throne of the
Pandoo, but we believe these princes to have enjoyed little more than the shadow
of royal authority. Such an inference is naturally drawn, when Indraprastha does
not appear to be a famous place in the history of Buddha. The historians of
Alexander and Seleucus, also, make no allusion to the princes of that city. Muttra
has been spoken of, and a splendid account of Palibothra has been transmitted,
but no notice whatever has been left of the capital of Pandoo sovereignty. No
doubt a race of princes existed at this last place, but they must have dwindled
into insignificance, or otherwise they would not have been passed over in utter
silence. The Goutamas were followed by the Mauryas, a family consisting of nine
princes. The last of the Mauryas is stated to have been attacked and slain by the
Rajah of Kemayoon, named Sakaditya, or Lord of the Sakas. In his turn, the
mountain chief was conquered by the famous Vicramaditya, a monarch whom
fable represents to have sat upon a fairy throne, borne upon the shoulders of
interdicted angels from Indras court in heaven, and to have raised spectral
agents, like Aladdin in the Arabian tale, for the execution of his behests.
Vicramaditya is said to have had the Pandoo blood in him, but he removed the
seat of his imperial government to Avanti, or Ougein.
It is about this period that the name of Delhi first occurs in history. It cannot be a
mere change of name, used instead of Indraprastha, when there are remains
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sufficient to attest to its separate existence. Nothing, however, is recorded of the
circumstances that necessitated the building of this city. Probably the desire to
perpetuate his name might have led an ambitious prince to change the site of his
regal abode and imperial Indraprastha must have waned and gan to pale its fires
before the brighter effulgence of the new city. Neither is there any certainty
about the period in which had been laid the foundation of Delhi. The city must
be presumed to have been already founded when it fell into the hands of
Vicramaditya. The words Dilli-pat-kahayo -- became king of Delhi, applied to him,
plainly indicate the existence of that city from an anterior period to his conquest.
The origin of the name of Delhi is also a subject of various opinions but the
tradition which states it to have been derived from a Rajah of the name of Dilu,
or Dhilu, seems entitled to a greater confidence than any other. That the city of
Delhi may have been founded by a prince of similar name is probable enough,
for it is a common custom in India, even at the present day, to name places after
their founders. The name of Dilu may be recognized in Tilak, which again
sounds not unlike to Nilagh, the prince who was the last of the Mauryas.
13
If this
approximate identity of name can be depended upon, then the date of the
foundation of Delhi may be fixed immediately prior to the era of Vicramaditya,
or about 57 B.C.
There is a widely-spread tradition that, on the removal of the seat of government
to Avanti, Delhi lay waste and desolate (ujarh rahi) for eight centuries. That it had
ceased to be the metropolis of the land during all this period may be said without
much fear of contradiction. But it is erroneous to state that it had remained quite
deserted and void of any population. The existence of both Delhi and
Indraprastha in the second century, are recognized in the Daidala and Indabara of
Ptolemy.
14
There is again the Iron Pillar, the date of which is assigned to the early
part of the fourth century, from which we may infer the place to have been
occupied by the Rajah who has left it behind for posterity. It had no occasion to
be erected in the midst of a jungle haunted by jackals and wolves. It was
intended to be a proud monument of successto be the gaze of millionsand to
gazette to the world the fact of a most glorious triumph; and a place thronged by
populous numbers, and to which men bent their steps from far and near, was the
most eligible position on which to erect that pillar. How native historians could
have ignored all this it is not easy to explain.
13
The reader is referred for fuller particulars to the Archaeological Report of Cunningham.
14
The mention of Delhi may possibly be found in Ptolemys Dai-dala, which is placed close to Indrahara
(perhaps Indrapat), and mid-way between Modura, or Mathura, and Batan Kaisara, or Sthaneswara. The
close proximity of Daidala to Indrabara, joined to the curious resemblance of their names to Dilli and
Indrapat, seems to me to offer very fair grounds for assuming their probable identity with these two famous
Indian citiesCunningham.
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The site of ancient Delhi is eleven measured miles from the present city of that
name. The coachee, who was to carry us to that place, was a young lad of about
twenty, but he seemed to be a wide-awake fellow for his profession. He refused
to agree to any terms below eight rupees for a gharry and horse, and got out his
fare-book, certified by many respectable names, to conclude the bargain. Half-an-
hour after breakfast we started, and, driving out by the Lahore gate, we fell into a
road that lay through a vast waste of ruins. The whole extent of the plain was
more or less strewn with broken columns, and gateways, and tombs, and
mosques, and stones, and masonry, in all the nakedness of desolation. They were
neither gray, nor blackened; there was no lichen, no moss, no rank grass, or
mantling ivy, to robe them and conceal their deformity. Like the bones of man,
they seemed to whiten under the sun of the desert.
The Moslem, the Christian, time, war, flood, and fire,
Have dealt upon the seven-fortd citys pride;
She saw her glories star by star, expire,
And up the steep outlandish monarchs ride.
Where the car climbed the citadel: far and wide
Temple and tower went down, nor left a site:-
Chaos of ruins! Who shall trace the void,
Oer the dim fragments cast a lunar light,
And say, here was, or is, where all is doubly night?
The double night of ages, and of her,
Nights daughter, ignorance, bath wrapt and wrap
All around us; we but feel our way to err:
The ocean bath her chart, the stars their map,
And knowledge spreads them on her ample lap:
But Delhi is as the desert, where we steer
Stumbling oer recollections; now we clap
Our hands, and cry Eureka! it is clear
When but some false mirage of ruin rises near.
Half-way the horse had to be changed. It was near three oclock when we
reached the destination of the days tour. The spot is remarkable for many noble
ruins of by-gone days, which, either by their grand size, their solid strength, or
their majestic beauty, still proudly testify that this vast waste of ruins was once
Imperial Delhi, the capital of all India.
Locally, Indraprastha has a more advantageous site upon the river; and Delhi, a
stronger position in an amphitheatre of rocks. The first site of a human city is
always chosen for its conveniences; the second, for its security. The scarcity of
water must have been a source of great hardship to the ancient Delhiites, and
Wafer Works Schemes must have had a high premium among them.
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The rambler among the ruins of Hindoo Delhi will ask himself, Where are the
palaces of the kings, and princes, and people who once formed the populous
numbers of this desolate city? Where the young, the highborn, the beautiful, and
brave, who once thronged the gay streets, and rejoiced in riches and power, and
lived as if there was no grave? Where are ye all now? The busy haunts of ancient
Delhi are now filled with the silence and solitude of desolation. The temples of
its gods, and the towers of its princes, have disappeared to give way to the riot of
jungles. The rocks that resounded with the shouts of thousands, now echo to the
cries of the jackal and hyena, and the once glorious city is now a desert, with
scarcely a beacon to guide the steps of the tourist or antiquaryfor traces remain
to point out its site, as meagre as those that prove the existence of the Mammoth
or the Mastodonton.
The Iron Pillar. The oldest of all monuments in Delhi is Asocas column, of which
hereafter, as little remains after what has been already said. The next in point of
antiquity is the Iron Pillara solid shaft of mixed metal, upwards of 16 inches in
diameter, and about 60 feet in length. The greater part of it is under-ground, and
that which is above is 22 feet high. The ground about it has marks of a recent
excavation, said to have been carried down to 26 feet without reaching the
foundation on which the pillar rests, and without loosening it in any degree. The
pillar contains about 80 cubic feet of metal, and would weigh upwards of 17
tonsgreater, perhaps, than the weight of the anchor which holds fast the Great
Eastern.
Many large works in metal, says Cunningham, were no doubt made in ancient
times, such, for instance, as the celebrated Colossus of Rhodes, and the gigantic
statues of the Buddhists, which are described by Hwen Thsang. But all of them
were of brass or copper, all of them were hollow, and they were all built of pieces
riveted together, whereas this pillar is one solid shaft. It is true that there are
flaws in many parts, which show the casting is imperfect; but when we consider
the extreme difficulty of manufacturing a pillar of such vast dimensions, our
wonder will not be diminished by knowing that the casting is defective. Indeed,
the idea and execution of this monstrous piece of metal, attests to a greater
genius amongst the ancient Hindoos than is found among their present
descendants. It speaks of furnaces, and foundries, and forges, as large as those of
modern Birmingham and Woolwich, and of a chemical knowledge of metals
scarcely inferior to that prevailing in the present century. They must have had
also the command of high mechanical powers to put up thin enormous rod. The
iron pillar speaks of a more enlightened age than the stone pillar of Asoca.
The Iron Pillar, standing nearly in the middle of a grand square, records its own
history in a deeply-cut Sanscrit inscription of six lines on its western face.
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Antiquaries have read the characters, and the pillar has been made out to be the
arm of fame (Kirttibhuja) of Rajah Dhava. He is stated to have been a worshipper
of Vishnu, and a monarch who had subdued a people on the Sindhu, called
Vahlikas probably, the Bahikas of the Punjab, and that he obtained with his own
arm an undivided sovereignty on the earth for a long period. The letters cut
upon the triumphal pillar are called the typical cuts inflicted on his enemies by
his sword, writing his immortal fame. It is a pity that posterity can know nothing
more of this mighty Rajah Dhava, than what is recorded in the meagre
inscription upon this wonderful relic of antiquity. The characters of the
inscription are thought to be the same as those of the Gupta inscriptions, and the
success alluded to therein is supposed to have been the assistance which that
Rajah had rendered in the downfall of the powerful sovereigns of the Gupta
dynasty. The age in which he flourished is, therefore, concluded to have been
about the year 319 A.D., the initial point of the Balabhi or Gupta era.
There is another short inscription in three lines, the words of which are, Samwat
Dihali 1109 Ang Pal bahi. In Samvat 1109 (equal to A.D. 1052) Ang Pal peopled
Dilli. This appears to be a contemporary record of Anang Pal himself, as the
characters are similar to those of the masons marks on the pillars of the
colonnade of the adjacent Great Mosque, but are quite different from those of the
two modern Nagri inscriptions, which are close beside it. Three characters, in use
at three different epochs, are thus read upon this famous pillar.
15
The site of the Iron Pillar has engaged the attention of antiquaries, and it is said
to identify the site of the city existing in the fourth century. It must, as an
interesting object, have been erected in a conspicuous position, and may be
supposed as marking the centre, or the neighbourhood, of that city. Time has
lightly dealt, and must lightly deal, for many ages to come, with this pillar. The
metal has been so fused and amalgamated as to defy all oxidation, of which not a
trace is seen upon it. Though it has stood for more than fifteen hundred years,
the characters remain bold and clear as when they first came from the hands of
the engraver.
In the eyes of a Hindoo, few objects can have more interest than this Iron Pillar of
Rajah Dhava. If he has any reverence for the men and things of old, he can
scarcely recur to anything else with more satisfaction than to this proud record of
15
The remaining inscriptions on the Iron Pillar are numerous but unimportant. There are two records of
the Chohan Rajah Chatra Sinha, both dated in s. 1883, or A.D. 1826. They state that the Rajah was
descended from Prithisi Raja in 29 generations, which is quite possible, although the period allowed for
each generation is under 23 years. The date of Prithivi Rajah is given as s. 1151, or A.D. 1094. which is
just 99 years too early, an amount of error which agrees with the false dates in the Prithu Raj Chohan Rasa
of the Bard Chand. There is also another modern Nagri inscription of six lines, dated in R. 1767, or A.D.
1710, of the Bundela Rajas of Chanderi. Below this there are two Persian inscriptions, dated inA.H.
1060 and 1061, or A.D. 1651-52, which merely record the names of visiton. Cunningham.
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success. We never felt a greater degree of reverence than when we approached
and stood at the foot of the pillar, and felt the wish to write our humble name
upon it, considering this one of the duties of a pious pilgrim. Its great antiquity,
its enormous size, and its interesting inscriptions, roused our feelings to
enthusiasm. If all the works and records of our nation were swept away, if our
Vedas, our Ramayuna, and our Mahabarat were to perish, and this lonely pillar
were to survive, it would suffice to preserve the name and lineage of our race
would speak volumes in favour of its civilization, and would, like another Buraho
Avatar, rescue its fame from the depths of oblivion.
But the civilized man, falling away from his civil-ization, approximates to the
barbarian,and the de-generate Hindoo of the present day is not very likely to
fall into a humour for heroics about this iron pillar of his ancestors. The sun and
soil, but not the sons, are the same,and they fail to appreciate the intents and
purposes for which it rears up its head. The mysterious hieroglyphics upon it
mock the efforts of their scanty learning. Their ignorance, like an ignis-fatuns, has
led them astray to make it a peg whereupon to hang a tale. The man who had
conducted us to the pillar told us that it was the rod which Bheema had wielded,
and which has been left standing by the Pandoos. There was another who
believed it to rest on the head of Vasuki, the serpent-king who supports the earth.
None could read the obsolete characters of its inscription, none could tell of its
age, and none knew for what it stood there. They were surprised to hear from us,
for the first time, that the great pillar before them was fifteen centuries old, and
that it had been erected to immortalize the name of a Rajah of great power in his
day, but who unfortunately could by no means be identified in the annals of our
country.
The most widely prevalent tradition attributes the Iron Pillar to the Pandoos, of
whose heroic age it is believed to be a token. The Brahmins in the court of Anang
Pal, the founder of the Tomara dynasty, bad represented this pillar to have been
driven so deep into the ground, that, piercing through the density of the earth, it
was said to rest on the head of the great snake-god Schesnag, or Vasuki. To test
the truth of their statement, the sceptic monarch ordered the pillar to be dug up,
when blood bulged from the earths centre, and the pillar became (dhilli) loose,
thence giving occasion to the origin of the name of Delhi, as also to the well-
known verse:
Khili toh dhilli bhai
Tomar bhoya mat hin.
The pillar became loose by the Tomars folly
In the words of Kharg Rai, the Tomar prince had been furnished, by the sage
Vyas, with an iron spike, twenty-five fingers long. This was formally sunk into
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the ground, at a lucky moment, on the 13th day of the waning moon of Boisakh,
in the Sam rat year 792, or A.D. 736. Then said Vyas to the Rajah
Tum se raj kadi jaiga nahi,
Yih khunti Vasug ki mathe gadi hai.
Neer will thy kingdom be beeped,
The spike hath pierced Vssukis head.
But the sage had scarcely gone away, before the incredulous Tomar had the spike
taken up.
Bulwn Deo khunti ukharh dekhi
Tub lohu se chuchati nikali.
He saw the spike thrown on the ground,
Blood dropping from the serpents wound.
The horrified monarch now repented of his folly, and, sending back for the sage,
attempted to drive the stake a second time. But it did not penetrate beyond nine-
teen fingers, and remained loose in the ground. There-upon Vyas once more
addressed the Rajah in a prophetic tone, like the (khili) spike which you have
driven, your dynasty will be unstable (dhilli); and after nineteen generations it
will be supplanted by the Choans, and they by the Turkans. Not more
prophetically had the weird sisters spoken to Macbeth, than had Vyas done to
the Tomar prince, whose dynasty ceased to reign after nineteen generations.
Here is again a third version, to the effect that Rajah Pirthi Rai, dreading the fall
of his dynasty, consuited the Brahmins as to what steps should be taken to insure
its continuance. He was informed that if he sunk an iron shaft into the ground,
and managed to pierce the head of the snake-god Schesnag, who supported the
world, his kingdom would endure for ever. The pillar was accordingly
constructed, and the directions of the Brahmins implicitly obeyed. How long the
shaft remained undisturbed is not said, but the Rajah, either distrusting his
priestly advisers or desirous of seeing for himself whether the snake had been
touched, contrary to the entreaties of the Brahmins, had the pillar taken up. To
the surprise of the spectators, and the consternation of the sovereign, the end of it
was found covered with blood, and the Rajah was informed that his dynasty
would shortly cease. He ordered the pillar to be again inserted in the ground, but
the serpent below appears to have had enough of cold iron; and the Brahmins
declared that the sceptre would soon pass away from the hands of the Hindoo
sovereign. The charm was anyhow broken, for Shabab-oodeen shortly after
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wrested from Pirthi Rai his life and kingdom, and from that day to this no
Hindoo king has ever ruled in Delhi.
16
However variously related, the main points of the tradition remain the same in
all versions. They all allude to the pillar having once been taken up, probably to
satisfy the curiosity that men felt of its depth, just as an attempt has been made in
our day to fathom the same. The question, then, is, when had it been taken up
whether in Bulwan Deos or Pirthi Rais time? It is not easy to answer the
question. But this much is almost certain, that the Brahmins could not have dared
to propagate the story, unless the Gupta characters of Rajah Dhavas inscription
had become obsolete and unreadable. No clue yet has been found to know
whether those characters had become unreadable to the men of Bulwan Deos
time. That the record upon the pillar had become an inscrutable mystery to the
generations of the twelfth century may be inferred from the fact that, when the
Mahomedan conqueror first took possession of Delhi, he was told, that:
While stands the Iron Pillar, Hindoo Raj shall stand,
When falls the Iron Pillar, Hindoo Raj shall fall.
The stability of the Hindoo government may well have been compared to the
stability of the Iron Pillar. But to show his contempt of the prophecy, the proud
victor spared the pillar, or otherwise it would long ago have ceased to exist. The
same story has been related to many a recent traveller
17
and it gives a plausible
ground to suppose that the tradition did not obtain currency till the sceptre had
passed away from the hands of the Hindoos. In the opinion of Cunningham, the
tradition had its origin at a late period in the history of the Tomars, when the
long duration of their rule had induced people to compare its stability with that
of the Iron Pillar, and the saying may be referred, with considerable probability,
to the prosperous reign of Anang Pal II., whose name is inscribed on the shaft
with the date of Samvat 1109, or A.D. 1052. But in the other form that the story is
also related, and which regards the pillar to have been the palladium of Hindoo
dominion, it may as well be thought to have originated on the fall of the Hindoo
empire. To cut short .all disputes, the Brahmins ought to have given out that the
pillar was the work of the Indian Vulcanthe wonder of his forge.
Lone as the Iron Pillar stands, it is a sufficient proof that Delhi was occupied in
the fourth century. It was subsequent to the age of the Rajah Dhavaand that
not long afterwardsthat Delhi appears to have become desolate, as stated by
16
Sleeman has a humorous dialogue about this tradition.
17
Major Archer heard that, as long the pillar stood, so long would Hindoostan flourish. Mrs. Colin
Mackenzie says, that as long as this pillar stands, the Raj or kingdom has not finally departed from the
Hindoos.
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the court laureates and historiographers of Rajasthan, though nothing is
mentioned as to the causes which had brought on such a calamity. It remained so
for four hundred years. The silence of Fa Hian and Hwen Thsang regarding
Delhi is a proof of the insignificance of that city from A.D. 400 to 640. The latter
traveller does not mention any place between Muttra and Thanesur. It was not
because Delhi had not been a Buddhistic city that those travellers did not pay a
visit to it. There is a stone pillar in the colonnade of the Kootub dinar, bearing a
figure of Buddha the Ascetic, from which the place may be concluded to have
been as much Buddhistical at one time as any other Indian city. This was when
Buddhism was the religion of the land, and the Puranic creeds had not yet
developed themselves; and the pillar in question may claim a greater antiquity
than the one of Rajah Dhava.
Deserted for many a year, Delhi was again peopled, and rose rapidly from its
ruins. This took place in the year 736 A.D., and the man who made himself
memorable by that event was a Tomar Rajpoot, of the name of Bulwan Deo.
Originally, he was known as an opulent Thacoor among his Rajpoot brethren.
But claiming to have been descended from the blood-royal of the Pandoos, and
assuming the ensigns of royalty, he established himself in the then deserted
capital of his ancestors, and adopted the title of Anang Pal, or the founder of the
desolate abodean epithet derived from Palna, to support, and Anango, without
body, or incorporeal.
The reign of Bulwan Deo was a brilliant epoch in the history of Delhi. It grew
into a flourishing city during the nineteen years he held the sceptre. But he had
not been followed by many of his successors before the throne of the Tomara was
removed to Kanouge; and Delhi, relapsing into desolation, was again doomed to
lie a deserted waste. The change of capital seems to have taken place in a short
period, or Delhi could not have sunk into so much insignificance as to be passed
unnoticed by Masudi, who visited India in 915 A.D. No mention of it appears in
the history of Mahmud. He sacked and plundered Muttra on the one hand and
Thanesur on the other; and, had Delhi possessed any importance, it was not
likely to have escaped his avarice or bigotry. Abu Rihan was actually resident in
India about the year 1031 A.D., and Delhi is not once mentioned in his
geographical chapter. It was not until Anang Pal had rebuilt her in 1052, that she
was again a populous city, and the Delhiites an opulent and luxurious people.
The Lalkot. The rise of the Rahtores, and their conquest of Banouge were the
causes that led Anang Pal II. to remove himself to Delhi. To hold his court again
in the capital of his great namesake ancestor, he had to build anew that city. No
ancient architecture stood there. The place had turned into a jungle, and been
denuded of its population, and a few huts, tenanted by poor inmates, were all
that stood upon the spot. To be secure in his abode, the new capital was fortified
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by a castle that remains to this day an interesting monument in the history of
Delhi. The site selected for his citadel were the grounds surrounding the Iron
Pillara position that seems to have been the middle of the city in that age. It
was commenced in 1052, and completed in 1060 A.D. The name conferred upon
the Fort was Lalkot, or the Red Fort, as appears from the following record. In
Samvat 1117, or A.D. 1060, Delhi ka kote karaya, Lalkot kahaya,he built the Fort of
Delhi, and called it Lalkot. This name may be suspected to have been derived
from the materials of its construction red sandstone. But the remains yet existing
are observed to be of the gray stone of the neighbouring ridges.
The Fort of Lalkot is of an irregular rounded oblong form, two and a half miles in
circumference. Its walls are as lofty and massive as those of Togluckabad,
although the blocks of stone are not so colossal. By different measurements I
found the ramparts to be from 28 to 30 feet in thickness, of which the parapet is
just one half. These massive ramparts have a general height of 60 feet above the
bottom of the ditch, which still exists in very fair order all round the fort, except
on the south side, where there is a deep and extensive hollow that was most
probably once filled with water. About one-half of the main walls are still
standing as firm and solid as when they were first built. At all the salient points
there are large bastions from 60 to 100 feet in diameter. Two of the largest of
these, which are on the north side, are called the Futteh Boorj and the Sohan
Boorj. The long lines of walls between these bastions are broken by numbers of
smaller towers, well displayed out at the base, and 45 feet in diameter at the top,
with curtains of 80 feet between them: along the base of these towers, which are
still 30 feet in height, there is an outer line of wall forming a raoni or faussebraie,
which is also 30 feet in height. The parapet of this wall has entirely disappeared,
and the wall itself is so much broken, as to afford an easy descent into the ditch
in many places. The upper portion of the counterscarp wall has nearly all fallen
down, excepting on the north-west side, where there is a double line of works
strengthened by detached bastions. The positions of three of the gateways in the
west half of the Fort is easily recognizable, but the walls of the east half are so
much broken, that it is now only possible to guess at the probable position of one
other gate. The north gate is judiciously placed in the re-entering angle close to
the Sohan Boorj, where it still forms a deep gap in the lofty mass of rampart, by
which the cowherds enter with their cattle. The west gate is the only one of
which any portion of the walls now remains. It is said to have been called the
Ramie gate. This gateway was 17 feet wide, and there is still standing on the left
hand a large upright stone, with a groove for guiding the ascent and descent of
the portcullis. This stone is 7 feet in height above the rubbish, but it is not
probably less than 12 or 15 feet. It is 2 feet 1 inch broad and 1 foot 3 inches thick.
The approach to this gate -is guarded by no less than three small outworks. The
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south gate is in the south most angle it is now a mere gap in the mass of rampart.
On the south-west side there must have been a gate leading towards Muttra.
18
The massive old Fort of Lalcot, still in very good order in many places, is
interesting for the light it throws on the art of fortifications in the eleventh
century, and the proof it furnishes of the military genius of the Hindoos of that
day. Oh, you who hope one day to sit in the Council, and guide the helm, come
quickly, and be not sparing to spend your money in looking at old stonescome
to bend your curious eye upon the sad remnants of a day when the Hindoo was
the sovereign of the soiland:
Standing by the Tomaras grave
Deem yourself no more a slave.
Here, read the opinion which a son of Mars of the present day has pronounced in
favour of the castle of your ancestors. The plan of defence seems to have been a
rampart wall, faced with loose stones and protected at irregular distances by
small bastions; the ditch below is of great depth, and beyond this rises another
wall which has also defensive works built on it. Comparing the Lalkot with the
old British stronghold near Dorchester, and as they are of much the same size
the comparison is not an unfair one,it may be said that the work in the Lalkot
is far the stronger of the two, and that the architectural skill in the British fort
cannot be compared to that shown in the Lalkot, which, indeed, in the days in
which it was built must have been almost impregnable. The defences, as far as
we can now judge of them, must have been admirable, the advanced works
being well covered by the ramparts and corner bastions.
19
Our lawyer-friend and ownself examined the localities as carefully as a couple of
engineers seeking an assailable position to scale the walls. The soil is wild with
bush and bramble, growing over long-buried dwellings, but the pedestrian can
scramble quite round the battlements. The pathway on the north and west is in
capital order, and the ramparts are easily traced running along the south.
Following the line of walls, we ascended and paused at the blocks of stone and
huge masses of masonry near the western gate, and we thought of the
frequently-recurring times when hostile armies had drawn up before the city at
our feet, and the in-habitants, in terror and confusion, had hurried up this path
and taken refuge within the gate before us. The imperial residence must have
been secure within the citadel. There must have been other stately palaces and
temples within its walls. But not a trace is seen of any buildings within the
ramparts now. The tourist has to tread upon the sepulchre of a buried city.
18
General Cunnigham.
19
Lieutenant A. Harcourt.
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To the Anang Tal,a tank still called after the name of its excavator, and lying a
quarter of a mile to the north-west of the Kootub Minar. This tank is 169 feet long
from north to south, and 152 feet broad from east to west, and 40 feet deep. No
doubt, it had been excavated to supply the garrison with water, in a region
where that element of life is scarce. In its day, it must have been a splendid
reservoir, but is now quite dry. It is known to have contained water up to three
hundred and fifty years after the date of its excavation. The water used for the
mortar of the unfinished Minar was brought from the Anang Tal.
Of the same age, the only other remains seen at this distance of time, are the
stone pillars and beams of a temple, that are now in the south-east corner of the
colonnade of the Great Mosque. One of the pillars bears the date of 1124, which,
referred to the era of Vicramaditya, is equivalent to A. D. 1067, when Anang Pal
was reigning in Delhi. There are other masons marks on the bases and capitals,
which show how they followed the same rules that are yet observed in the
construction of a Hindoo building. The idolatry of the Brahmins was at its height
in the age of Anang Pal, and as Vishnuvism was dominant in these upper regions,
the temple under question may have been dedicated to the god of that creed.
Anang Pal II., enjoyed a prosperous reign, and ruled over territories extending
from Hand to Agra, and from Ajmere to the Ganges. He was succeeded by three
other Rajahs who still further enlarged their kingdoms. The fourth from him was
a prince of the same name, Anang Pal III., who was the nineteenth from Bulwan
Deo, and had been foretold to be the last of the illustrious dynasty of the
Tomaras. The loss of his throne was brought about by a quarrel which broke out
between him and the Chohan, who had hitherto acknowledged his supremacy,
but now contended with him for the palm of sovereignty. The dissension led the
two clans to fight a battle in the vicinity of Delhi, where the Chohan not only
gained the victory, but established his superiority over the Tamara. The date of
this event was 1052 A. D. The man, who defeated Anang, and, capturing Delhi,
hoisted his banners upon the Fort of Lalkot, carved a name the most illustrious in
the annals of Rajpoot history. He was called Beesildeva, classically pronounced
Visaldeva,the grandson of one who had captured 1200 horses from Subuktegin,
and the son of a prince who had humbled the mighty Muhmood by forcing him
to relinquish the siege of Ajmeer. To the heritage of glory thus bequeathed to
Visaldeva, he added a fresh lustre by his success over the Tomara. He next set
himself up as the champion of the Hindoo faith, and became the sworn foe of the
Islamite to consecrate his name by further deeds of heroism. Though Visal, tukht
baitha Delhi raj kiya, sat on the throne, and established his kingdom in Delhi,he
deemed the custom of the conqueror more honoured in the breach than in the
observance, by leaving the venerable Tomarain possession of the throne of his
ancestors, and exacting from him in return that homage which had hitherto been
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paid to him by the Chohans. To lessen the sting of humiliation, he married his
grandson to the Tomaras daughter. The issue of this union, the famous Pirthi-raj,
became the adopted son of the Tomara Bing, and was formally acluiowledged as
heir to the throne of Delhi. The close of Anang Pal III.s reign, and the extinction
of the Tomara dynasty, took place in 1170 A. D. In the same century that the
Normans were superseding the Saxons in a remote island on the German Ocean,
did the Chohans supersede the Tomaras in Delhi. The last of the Tomaras verily
died the veteran of a race, the long duration of whose rule is almost
unprecedented in the annals of Indian history. They enjoyed the throne for a
period approaching to four hundred years, and, attaining the dotage of their
power, disappeared to shoot forth from a new stem planted upon another soil.
That stem was Pirthi-raj, who amalgamated the Tomara and Chohan in one body,
and perpetuated the two lines in one prince. He was born in the year 1154, and
was sixteen years of age when he succeeded his maternal grandfather, and sat
himself on the throne of the Anangos.
The name of Pirthi-raj is associated with many a daring exploit, that threw over
his life the charm of chivalry and romance. The steed, the sword, and the fair,
were the idols of his heart. His were the days that the Rajpoot yet loves to talk
ofchanting stanzas from Chand, the poet-laureate of his court, and the last
great bard of Rajpootana. The first princess married by Pirthi-raj was the
daughter of the Dahima of Bianaa city, the castle of which was built on the
topmost peak of Druinadaher, to resemble the Koilasa of Shiva. The young
Dahimee princess brought in with her a dower of eight beauteous maids and
sixty-three female slaves, one hundred chosen horses of the breed of Irak, two
elephants and ten shields, a pallet of silver, one hundred wooden images, one
hundred chariots, and one thousand pieces of gold. Her three brothers
accompanied her to Delhi for employment in its court. The eldest, Kaimas, was
appointed the premier; and while he headed the cabinet the affairs of Pirthi-raj
were at the highest prosperity. Poondir, the second, was placed near Lahore to
guard the frontiers against foreign invasion. The third, Chaond Rai, received a
commission in the army, at the head of which he achieved many a glorious
victory. Pirthi-raj next strengthened himself by two powerful connections, by
giving his two sistersPirtha to Sainarsi, the Prince of Cheetore, and the other to
Pujoon, the distinguished chief of the Cutehawas. Thus did the emperor enlarge
the circle of his alliances, and add to the number of his adherents,till, at last,
there gathered round his throne one hundred and eight chiefs of the highest rank
in India, and his sway became the most powerful in the land.
In the height of his power, Pirthi-raj celebrated the Aswamedha, the most
magnificent of all rites enjoined to the Hindoo by his Shasters. Records exist of
this ceremony from the dawn of Indian history, but which, for its great costliness,
and the risks attending it, can scarcely be attempted now by princes dependent
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upon pensions, or ruling in small principalities. The main features of the
ceremony consisted in the selection of a milk-white steed, which on liberation
wandered where it chose, and offering for its master a challenge to the
surrounding princes, returned, if not seized by anybody, after completing a
twelvemonth, and was then bled to the sun with all the imposing effect that
royalty, and wealth, and holiness combined could produce. Pirthi-raj undertook
to celebrate this pompous ceremonyand the gauntlet he threw to all the Rajahs
around him, there ventured none to accept. The sacrifice of the steed, and a
lavish distribution of money, bruited his fame through all Hindoostan.
The Chohan and Rahtore were as much an implacable foe to each other as were
the Montagues and Capulets of Shakespeare,and the Rajah of Kanouge felt
himself eclipsed by the fame of his antagonist. To soothe his vanity, he projected
the celebration of the still more magnificent ceremony of the Rajshve, which had
not been attempted by any of the princes since the Pandoos, not even by the
great Vicramaditya. It was on the occasion of this ceremony that Pirthi-raj
forcibly carried off the Princess Sunjogta in open day from the capital of
Jychanda feat, the heroism of which forms the subject of the Kanouge Khand of
the Pirthivi Raj Chohan Rasa of Chand. The Princess of Kanouge was not only
remarkable for her perional charms, but formed the most perfect model of
Rajpoot female character in her day. No sooner did Pirthi-raj arrive with her at
Delhi, than he abandoned himself to her influence. The seductive charms of the
enchantress lulled the monarch for a time into a neglect of every princely duty,
and in his inglorious repose he resembled Hercules at the feet of Omphale. The
date of this abduction is A. D. 1175.
Pirthi-raj next undertook the conquest of Mahoba, or present Bundlecund. The
circumstance which led to the invasion of that country was his abduction of the
daughter of the Prince of Sameta. The Chohan soon reduced the Chundal to
extremities, and eventually to submission. Pirthi-rajs life was one continued
series of feats of arms and gallantry, the details of which would encumber our
subject with matter not strictly relevant to it. Let us therefore hasten to an epoch
in which happened events with consequences the most disastrous to our nation.
The banners of Islam, which had been unfurled as far west as over Portugal and
across the Pyrenees, were now destined to change their course, and wave over
regions of the East. From the middle of the seventh to the commencement of the
eleventh century occasional inroads had taken place that resembled rather
marauding expeditions than deliberate attempts at conquest. But, at length, there
arose a man who, to quote the words of the bard of Delhi, was a wave of iron in
the path of his foes. This was Sultan Mahmood of Ghizni. Twelve times did he
come in pursuit of the favourite object of his enterprise. But his career, like that of
a meteor, was attended only with a fitful glory. He merely pounced, from time to
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time, like an eagle, from his tremendous eyrie amid the snows of the Caucasus
snatched his prey, and then flew back to his domain. Hitherto the incursions of
the Islamite partook only the character of a predatory marauder, but
circumstances now concurred to give him a permanent footing in our laud, and a
paramount sway over our people. The intestine feuds of the Chohan and Rahtore
had paved the way for the approach of an enemy, who had long been desirous of
following a career similar to that of his Ghiznivide predecessor. Mahomed Ghori
had penetrated as far as Lahore, and in 1191 he set out to attack the Rajah of
Delhithe outwork and bulwark of Indian sovereignty. The hostile armies met
at Tilouri, between Thanesur and Kurnal, on the great plain,where most of the
contests for the possession of India have been decided. The Hindoo Rajah was
well prepared for defence, and sent the Mussulman scampering away to the tune
of Devil take the hindmost. In two years, however, the Ghorian again came dressed
in a fresh panoply of war, and encamped on the banks of the Caggar. This time
the fight was desperate, and Victory perched on the lance of the Moslem. The
brave Samarsi fell, together with his son and all his household troops. Chaond
Rai, the gallant Dahima, perished with the whole chivalry of Delhi. Pirthi-raj
himself was taken prisoner, and put to death in cold blood. The beloved spouse
of the Cheetore Chief, and the idolized Sunjogta, hearing of the fatal issue to their
lords, mounted the funeral pyre to join them in heaven. From the field of victory,
the conqueror turned his steps to the capital. There, within its walls, was young
Rainsi, who fell the last martyr in defence of his country, opposing the entry of
the foe. Then followed scenes of devastation, plunder, and massacre, that have
too often been enacted in Delhi. None survived excepting the bard Chand, who
alone remained to sing the requiem of his nations fall. Such was the great battle
that demolished the ancient fabric of Hindoo independence, and transferred the
empire of our country to the hands of a race with whom pageantry vas power,
slaughter the canon of their creed, plunder the principle of their administration,
and justice the exception, and not the rule, of their government.
Rai Pithora.In the days of Pithri-raj the Hindoo city of Delhi had been defended
by a double line of fortifications, before it could be taken. The appearance of
Mahomed Ghori at Lahore seems to have given a well-grounded apprehension
that Delhi might soon be attacked. The town outside the walls of Lalkot was
exposed, and an enemy might easily get possession of it. It was therefore
protected by an outer range of works that are still called Kiliah Rai Pithora. Those
works have now a circuit of four miles and three furlongs, surrounding the fort
of Lalkot. From the northwest angle of that citadel the lines of Rai Pithoras walls
can still be distinctly traced, running towards the north for about half a mile.
From this point they turn to the south-east for one and a half mile, then to the
south for one mile, and, lastly, to the west and northwest for three quarters of a
mile, where they join the south-west angle of Lalkot, which, being situated on
higher ground, forms a lofty citadel that completely commands the fort of Rai
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Pithora. But the defences of the city are in every way inferior to those of the
citadel. The walls are only half the height, and the towers are placed at much
longer intervals. The wall of the city is carried from the north bastion of Lalkot,
called Fateh Boorj, to the north-east for three quarters of a mile, where it turns to
the south-east for one and a half mile to the Damdama Boorj. From this bastion
the direction of the wall for about one mile is south-west, and then north-west for
a short distance to the south end of the hill on which Azim Khans tomb is
situated. Beyond this point the wall can be traced for some distance to the north
along the ridge which was most probably connected with the south-east corner
of Lalkot, somewhere in the neighbourhood of Sir T. Metcalfes house. The fort of
Rai Pithora is said to have had nine gates. Four of those gates can still be traced:
the first is on the west side, and is covered by an outwork: the second is on the
north side, towards Indraprat; the third is on the east side, towards Toglakhabad;
and the fourth is on the south-east side. But besides these there must have been
other gates somewhere on the south side. Such was the Hindoo city of Delhi
when it was captured by the Mussulmans in January, 1193. The circuit of its
walls was nearly four and a half miles, and it covered a space of ground equal to
one half of modern Delhi.
20
It was by the west gate of Rai Pithora that the Mussulman troops gained their
entrance into the city, and it was thence called the Ghizni gate. The citadel of
Lalkot was entered by the Ranjeet gate. The ground inside the walls of the
fortress was the scene of hard fighting between the Hindoos and Patans, and the
Mussulmans say that 5000 martyrs to their religion lie interred in the
neighbourhood. The assault on the Lalkot had been led by Hajee Baba Rose Beh,
and he was slain heading the storming party. His remains lie in a wild and
deserted spot, in the north-west ditch of the Lalkot. The tomb is visited
occasionally, and as it has been lately white-washed, it is evident that there are
some who have an interest in keeping it in a state of repair.
There were the enduring witnesses of Hindoo glory, and in the exceeding
interest of the scene around us, we hurried from place to place, utterly insensible
to fatigue, and passed on from one ruin to another, making the whole circuit of
the desolate city. Near the Ranjeet-gate imagination raised up the brave Samarsi
leading out his men for the plains of Kurnal. Pirthiraj, and Chaond Rai, and the
illustrious throng of Hindoo heroes, rose up in all the pomp and panoply of war,
and stood to see the troops filing before them. The Hindoo history of that age
teems with instances of as heroic courage, as great love of country, and as
patriotic devotion, as we read of in Grecian or Roman history,and yet the
actors in these scenes are not known beyond the boundaries of their native land.
The belted knights and barons bold of ancient Delhi had gathered round it and
20
General Cunningham.
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sworn to defend it, but they died in redeeming their pledge. Their oaths are
registered in heaven, their bodies rest in bloody graves. They have left a fame
unspotted with dishonour, and their memory is cherished in the songs of bards
to inflame the enthusiasm of their descendants to deeds of glory. Had the princes
of Kanouge, Putun, Dhar, and other states, joined with the Emperor of Delhi, it is
doubtful whether the Islamite could ever have been the lord of Hindoostan. But
jealousy and revenge rendered those princes indifferent spectators of a contest,
destined to overthrow them all.
The Bhoot Khana.In Pirthi-rajs capital were twenty-seven Hindoo temples, of
which several hundreds of richly-carved pillars still remain to attest both the
taste and the wealth of the last Hindoo rulers of Delhi. The cost of each of these
was twenty lakhs of Dilials. How rich this sounds; but, alas! The high-sounding
Dilial was little more than a halfpenny, and the paltry pomposity of Patan
arithmetic shrinking into a low figure, makes each temple to have cost only
40,000 Rupees. The Bhoot Khana is a colonnaded courtyard, the materials of
which were obtained from the demolition of the Hindoo temples. Heretofore,
there was a common tradition that on this site stood the palace of Pirthi-raj, and
that the numerous pillars which form the colonnades of the Bhoot Khans, once
belonged to his imperial residence. But nobody can fail to mark the incongruities
of the pillars, which are nearly all of them made up of two or three separate
pieces of shafts. The shaft of one kind has been placed upon that of another, and
half of it appears plain, the other half decorated. One shaft is ornamented at the
base, the other is its reverse,and in many instances a pillar is thicker at the top
than at the bottom. These are faults which the rudest architect would not commit,
and there is no doubt that the pillars do not stand as originally arranged by the
Hindoos, but that they have been taken down, and put in their present position
by the Mussulmans. This fact is recorded in an Arabic inscription over the
Eastern gateway of the courtyard. The old Hindoo pillars of a blackish stone,
from which probably is the name of Bhoot Khana, are carved with fine
workmanship and sculpture. But the idol-hating Mahomedans, deeming
offensive the infidel images, had put over them a coating of plaster. Time has
removed this, and the figures are again visible. There are two stones in the north
side of the court, one fixed in the inner wall in the north-east angle just above the
pillars, and the other in the outer wall between the north gate and the northeast
corner. The inner sculpture represents several well-known Hindoo gods: first,
Vishnu lying on a couch with a lotus rising from his navel, and covered by a
canopy, with two attendants, one standing at his head and one sitting at his feet;
second, a seated figure not recognized; third, Indra, on his elephant; fourth,
Brahma, with three heads, seated on his goose; fifth, Shiva, with his trident, seated
on his bull Nandi; sixth, a figure with lotus, seated on some animal not
recognized. The outer sculpture is of a different description. The scene shows
two rooms with a half-open door between them. In each room there is a female
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lying on a couch with a child by her side, a canopy over her head, and an
attendant at her feet. In the left-hand room two females are seen carrying
children towards the door, and in the right-hand room two others are doing the
lame. The whole four of these females appear to be hastening towards the
principal figure in the right-hand room. The first sculptures leave no doubt as to
the full development of that Puranic idolatry which had a great share in bringing
about the decline and fall of the Hindoo empire; and the second may well give us
some faint notions of Hindoo female life amongst the Tomaras and Chohans of
the eleventh and twelfth centuries. To the south-east of the court is a small
temple, ascended by a narrow staircase. The shape is that of a pavilion, with
open pointed arches. These betray the temple to have been put up by
Mahomedan hands. But beneath the dome the stones still remain blackened by
the smoke which had arisen from the burnt-offerings when a Hindoo god had sat
beneath it. The beautiful female faces on the top of the columns supporting the
dome have been all defaced by the iconoclastic Moslem. From many of the pillars
being carved with cross-legged Buddhistic figures, their age may be thought to
be older than the ninth or tenth century. Their great antiquity, the mystery that
overhangs them, and their extraordinary preservation amid the surrounding
desolation, make them not a little interesting in our eyes. But, in the words of an
old traveller, Time sadly overcometh all things, and is now dominant, and sitteth
upon the Iron Pillar and looketh into old Delhi, while his sister Oblivion reclineth
semi-somnolent on the Bhoot-Khana, gloriously triumphing, and turning old
glories into dreams History sinketh beneath her cloud. The traveller, as he
passeth amazedly through the cloisters, asketh of her who builded them, and she
mumbleth something, but what it is he heareth not.
From the earliest period India has been the prey of many a nation from far and
near. The table-land of Central Asiaregarded as the cradle of the human race
formed the Cimmerian abode, whence poured down hordes upon her devoted
plains. But their occasional irruptions bore the character of storms that gathering
their strength upon the brows of the Caucasus, or the shores of the Oxus, burst to
sweep only the borders on the north and west, leaving the fertile regions of the
valley unscathed by steel, or unharmed by plunder. The Sutlege, and afterwards
the Caggar, were the Ultima Thule, within which their force was spent, and their
career was circumscribed. The country soon recovered from the shock of such
invasionsand the Hindoo, by alternate reverse and success, had kept the
enemy at bay for many an age. But, at length, the time arrived to fulfil the doom
long prophesied in the Poorans,which foretold dominion to the Yavana over
India,when the Mahomedan carried away the prize which Sesostris or
Semiramis, the Mede or the Macedonian, had coveted to win. The thirty-three
millions of deities, who had hitherto watched over her destinies, and oft sat in
awful conclaves over her affairs, went away to slumber, like tired agents,
betraying their trust in the moment of danger. The forsaken of the gods was
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seized upon, and retained with a firm grasp, by a redoubtable foe. He was an
utter alien in race and religion, in language and lawswho, obliterating every
trace of the past, wrought a change that presented the country under new
features altogether.
The Ghorian came down and overthrew for ever the throne of the Pandoos. The
Moslem war-cry rang through the streets of Delhi, and the foot of the stranger
was laid upon the necks of its inhabitants. The temples of its gods were
demolished, to be trodden and trampled upon in exultation,and a greater than
Babylon fell to lie groaning under the iron rod of the tyrant. The conqueror rode
triumphant through the Ranjit-gate, and took up his residence in the citadel of
Lalkot. He issued an order prohibiting the Hindoo chiefs the beat of their kettle-
drums Lalkot tai nagara bajto a, kettle-drums are not to be beaten in Lalkot. To
increase the security of his position, the Moslem made additions to the existing
Hindoo fortifications. The approach to the Ranjit-gate, the weakness of which
had been proved by his own success, was particularly strengthened by a double
line of works, and by three separate outworks immediately in front of the
gateway. There are two arches in the ditch to the north-west, which are said to be
Mahomedan, because the Hindoos in those days did not use the arch at all. No
dispute need be raised here as to the knowledge or ignorance of the Hindoos
about the arch in architecturesuffice it to mention, that the standard of Islam
waved aloft on the top of the Lalkot, casting its shadow that gradually spread
over the surface of our peninsula.
Musjeed-i-Kootub-ul-Islam. The first Mussulman kings of Delhi did not build any
huge forts or extensive cities to perpetuate their names. Their taste lay not in
works of ostentatious palaces and tombs like the Moguls. They were great
zealots, who chose to build noble mosques and colossal minars, to exalt the
religion of their prophet. No undertaking could have been more appropriate for
Kootub-ud-deenthe Pole Star of Islamism, than the erection of the Musjeed-i-
Kootub-ul-Islam. It rose the first altar to the Allah of Mahomed in the plains of
India, displacing the temples of our gods, and humbling the pride of our nation.
Though the earliest specimen of Patan architecture, this mosque is still unrivalled
for its grand line of gigantic arches, and for the graceful beauty of the flowered
tracery which covers its walls. The front of the musjeed is a wall eight feet thick,
pierced by a line of seven noble arches. The centre arch is 22 feet wide and nearly
53 feet in height, and the side arches are 10 feet wide and 24 feet high. Through
these gigantic arches the first Mussulmans of Delhi entered a magnificent room
13 feet long and 31 feet broad, the roof of which was supported on five rows of
the tallest and finest of the Hindoo pillars. The mosque is approached through a
cloistered court, 145 feet in length from east to west, and 96 feet in width. In the
midst of the west half of this court stands the celebrated Iron Pillar, surrounded
by cloisters formed of several rows of Hindoo columns of infinite variety of
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design, and of most delicate execution. There are three entrances to the court of
the musjeed, each 10 feet in width, of which the eastern entrance was the
principal one. The southern entrance has disappeared long ago, but the other two
are still in good order, with their interesting inscriptions in large Arabic letters.
During the reign of Altamish, the son-in-law of Kootub-ud-deen, the great
mosque was much enlarged by the addition of two wings to the north and south,
and by the erection of a new cloistered court six times as large as the first court.
The fronts of the two wing buildings are pierced by five arches each, the middle
arches being 24 feet span, the next arches 13 feet, and the outer arches 8 feet.
The walls are of the same thickness, and their ornamental scrolls are of the same
delicate and elaborate tracery as those of the original mosque. But though the
same character is thus preserved in these new buildings, it would seem that they
were not intended simply as additions to the great musjeed, but as new and
separate mosques. I infer this from the existence of a large niche in the middle of
the rear wall of the north wing, which, as far as my observation goes, is the usual
mode of construction for the middle of the back wall of every large mosque. The
whole front of the great musjeed, with its new additions, is 384 feet in length,
which is also the length of its cloistered court. The wall on the south side of the
court, as well as the south end of the east wall, are fortunately in good
preservation; and, as about three-fourths of the columns are still standing, we are
able to measure the size of the enclosure with precision, and to reckon the
number of columns with tolerable certainty. The number of columns must have
been as nearly as possible 600, and as each of them consists of two Hindoo shafts,
the whole number of Hindoo pillars thus brought into use could not have been
less than 1200. The court is a square of 362 feet inside the walls. The whole area
covered by the mosque and its court is 420 feet by 384 feet.
21
Immediately after the capture of Delhi, in 1193, bad the mosque been begun.
There were the materialsthe wrecks of the Hindoo templesready on the spot,
and in the short space of three years did the mosque rise in all its completion. In
its entirety, the Musjeed-i-Kootub-ul-Islam must have been an architectural
wonder, when in ruins it is one of the most magnificent works in the world. The
African traveller, Ebn Batuta, saw it a hundred and twenty-five years after the
date of its erection, and described it then as having no equal, either for beauty or
extent. It was entire when Tamerlane invaded India. That monarch took back a
model of it with him to Samarcund, together with all the masons he could find at
Delhi, and is said to have built a mosque upon the same plan at that place, before
he set out for the invasion of Syria. It was subsequent to this period that the
mosque seems to have fallen to ruins, and to have gone to utter decay by the time
of Baber, who makes no mention of it in his memoirs. Though quite in ruins now,
21
Cunningham.
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the outlines sufficiently impress the modern traveller with its majestic size and
grandeur. The large central arch has been put in order by the British Government.
It may be questioned whether this mosque of Kootub-ud-deen is the work of
Mahomedan or of Hindoo hands. Remembering that, in the previous century,
Mahmood had carried away the Hindoo masons from Muttra to build his
mosques and palaces at Ghizni, this question appears to gain considerable
ground in favour of the Hindoos. In the interval of time, the Mahomedans of
Ghizni or Ghori had scarcely any leisure from their wars to improve in the
peaceful arts. It is doubtful whether they had made the progress to execute the
elegant tracery on the walls. On the other hand, the arches afford a point in
favour of the Mahomedans. But a discussion has been raised to scout the notion
of the ignorance of the arch by the Hindoos
22
and we would attempt to draw an
argument towards its support from a reference to the arches in the Celestial Bride
of Mahmood. This celebrated mosque is admitted by all Mahomedan writers to
have been built by Hindoo architects. It has arches which cannot be denied to the
Hindoos without a blind prejudice. The doubt removed, the Hindoos appear in
our opinion to have had the same hand in the building of the Musjeed-i-Kootub-
ul-Islam as in that of the Celestial Bride.
The original name of the mosque, recorded in the inscription over the eastern
gateway, was the Jummah Musjeed. The present name appears to have been
conferred in honour of the memory either of Kootub-uddeen himself, or of his
great namesake and contemporary saint whose tomb is close by. Khawja Kootub-
uddeen, of Ouse, in Persia, has a great name in the chronicles of Mahomedan
sainthood. He was the guide and apostle of Altamash, and most probably led
that prince to make the additions spoken of to the musjeed. Pilgrims visit his
tomb from various parts of India, and go away persuaded that they shall have all
they have asked, provided they have given or promised liberally in a pure spirit
of faith in his influence with the Deity. The tomb of the saint is covered with gold
brocade and protected by an awningthose of the emperors around it lie naked
and exposed. Emperors and princes in abundance lie all around him; and their
tombs are entirely disregarded by the hundreds that daily prostrate themselves
before his, and have been doing so for the last six hundred years. Among the rest
I saw here the tomb of Mouazim, alias Bahadur Shah, the son and successor of
Aurungzebe, and that of the blind old Emperor Shah Alum, from whom the
Honourable Company got their Dewanee grant. The grass grows upon the slab
that covers the remains of Mouazimthe most learned, most pious, and most
amiable, I believe, of the crowned descendants of the great Akber. These kings
and princes all try to get a place as near as they can to the remains of such old
saints, believing that the ground is more holy than any other, and that they may
22
The discussion has been raised by Baboo Rajender Lan Mittra.
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give them a lift on the day of resurrection. The heir-apparent to the throne of
Delhi visited the tomb the same day that I did. He was between sixty and
seventy years of age. I asked some of the attendants of the tomb, on my way back,
what he had come for; and was told that no one knew, but every one supposed it
was for the death of the Emperor, his father, who was only fifteen years older,
and was busily engaged in promoting an intrigue at the instigation of one of his
wives, to oust him and get one of her own sons, Mirza Saleem, acknowledged as
his successor by the British Government.
The Kootab Minar.The ancient city of Delhi, according to Wilford, extended
above thirty miles along the banks of the Jumna. Surely the extent of the ruins
cannot be less than a circumference of twenty miles. On all sides of this
circumference are tombs and ruins, ruins and tombs,and above all, like a
Pharos to guide one over the sea of desolation, rises the tall, tapering cylinder of
the Kootub. The single majesty of the Minar, so grandly conceived, so beautifully
embellished, and so exquisitely finished, fills the mind of the spectator with
emotions of wonder and delight. He feels that it is among the towers of the earth,
what the Taj is among the tombssomething unique of its kind, that must ever
stand alone in his recollections.
Indeed, the Kootub outdoes: everything of its kind it is rich, unique, venerable,
and magnificent. It stands as it were alone in Indiarather it should have been
said alone in the world: for it is the highest column. that the hand of man has yet
reared; being, as it stands now, 238 feet and one inch above the level of the
ground. Once it is said to have been 300 feet high, but there is not any very
reliable authority for this statement. In 1794, however, it had been actually
measured to be 250 feet 11 inches high. The Pillar of Pompey at Alexandria, the
Minaret of the Mosque of Husun at Cairo, and the Alexandrine Column at St
Petersburg, all bow their heads to the Kootub.
The base of this Minar is a polygon of twenty-four sides, altogether measuring
147 feet. The shaft is of a circular form, and tapers regularly from the base to the
summit. It is divided into five stories, round each of which runs a bold projecting
balcony, supported upon large and richly-carved stone brackets, having
balustrades that give to the pillar a most ornamental effect. The exterior of the
basement story is fluted alternately into twenty-seven angular and semi-circular
faces. In the second story the flutes are only semi-circular: in the third they are all
angular. The fourth story is circular and plain: the fifth again has semi-circular
flutings. The relative height of the stories to the diameter of the base has quite
scientific proportions. The first or lowermost story is 95 feet from the ground, or
just two diameters in height. The second is 53 feet further up, the third 40 feet
further. The fourth story is 24 feet above the third, and the fifth has a height of 22
feet. The whole column is just five diameters in height. Up to the third story the
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Minar is built of fine red sandstone. From the third balcony to the fifth the
building is composed chiefly of white Jeypore marble. The interior is of the grey
quartose stone. The stones from seven different quarries, as stated by Ebn Batuta,
are not observed now: it may have been the case when that traveller saw the
Kootub in all its original magnificence and variety of materials. The ascent is by a
spiral staircase of 376 steps to the balcony of the fifth story, and thence are three
more steps to the top of the present stone-work. Inside it is roomy enough, and
full of openings for the admission of light and air. The steps are almost lady-
steps, and the ascent is quite easy. There are passages from the staircase to the
balconies, to allow of people walking into them. The ferruginous sandstone has
been well selected to lend a rich majestic appearance to the column. The surface
of that material seems to have deepened in reddish tint by exposure for ages to
the oxygen of the atmosphere. The white marble of the upper stories sits like a
tasteful crown upon the red stone; and the graceful bells sculptured in the
balconies are like a cummerbund round the waist of the majestic tower.
Besides the richly-decorated balconies, the body of the Minar is further
ornamented by horizontal belts of writing in bold relief, and in the Kufic
character. In the basement story there are six bands or belts of inscriptions
encircling the tower. The uppermost band contains only some verses from the
Koran, and the next below it gives the well-known ninety-nine Arabic names of
the Almighty. The third belt contains the name and praises of Mauz-uddin, Abul
Muzafar, Mahomed Bin Sam, commonly known as Mahomed Ghori. The fourth
belt contains only a verse from the Koran, and the fifth belt repeats the name and
praises of the Sultan Mahomed Bin Sam. The lowermost belt has been too much
injured, both by time and by ignorant restorations, to admit of being read.
In the second story, the inscription over the door-way records that the Emperor
Altamash ordered the completion of the Minar. The lowermost belt contains the
verses of the Koran respecting the summons to prayer on Friday, and the upper
line contains the praises of the Emperor Altamash. Over the door of the third
story the praises of Altamash are repeated, and again in the belt of inscription
round the column. In the fourth story, the door inscription records that the Miner
was ordered to be erected during the reign of Altamash.
There are other short inscriptions, which are deserying of notice. One of them in
the basement story records the name of Fazzil, son of Abul Muali, the Mutawallee.
He was probably the high-priest in the age of Kuttub-ud-deen. The name of
Mahomed Amircho, Architect, is attached to the Minar on a side of the third story.
On the same story, also, is a short Nagari inscription in one line with the name of
Mahomed Sultan (Mahomed Togluk), and the date of Samvat 1382, or A.D. 1325.
In another Nagari inscription on the fourth story, is recorded the name of Piroj
Sah, or Firoz Shah Togluk.
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The Kootub does not stand now in all the integrity of its original structure. It was
struck by lightning, and had to be repaired by the Emperor Firoz Shah in 1368.
The nature and extent of his repairs may be made out by the help of the Nagari
inscriptions on the fourth and fifth stories. The longest and most important of
them is found on the south jamb of the doorway of the fourth story, cut partly on
the white marble, and partly on the red sandstone. Unfortunately, this
inscriptionmore especially the upper portion on the white marbleis not in a
proper state of preservation. However, it is enough to establish that some repairs
hare been made to the fourth story by Firoz Shah. There is no record on the fifth
story, excepting of that Emperor,the whole of that story may be concluded to
have come down, and to have been rebuilt by him. It is an important fact to
know, that these repairs were executed by Hindoo hands. Not only does this
appear from the Nagari inscriptions put upon the Minar, but also from the name
of the Silpa, or Architect, recorded on the fourth-story doorway inscription. He
was called Nana Pala, the son of Chuhada Deva Pala. The Hindoo architect has not
failed to record his undertaking without the usual Hindoo invocation, Sri
Vihwakumaa Prasade Rachita--built under the auspices of Viswakurma, the
Celestial Architect of the Hindoos.
In 1503, the Minar had again happened to be injured, and been repaired by the
orders of Secunder Lodi. No Hindoo architect, but a Mahomedan one of the
name of Futteh Khan, the son of Khowas Khan, had been intrusted this time with
the superintendence of the repairs, as appears from a record put up over the
entrance doorway. The next period in the history of the Kootub at once brings us
down to the year 1803, or exactly five hundred years after its reparation by
Secunder Lodi. In that year, a severe earthquake seriously injured the pillar, and
its dangerous state having been brought to notice, on possession of the country,
the British Government liberally undertook its repairs. They were brought to a
close in 25 years, or more than the period the building had originally taken to be
reared. The old cupola of Firoz Shah, or of Secunder Lodi, that was standing in
1794, having fallen down, had been substituted by a plain octagonal red-stone
pavilion. To men of artistic taste this had appeared a very unfitting head-piece
for the noble column, so it was taken down by the orders of Lord Hardinge in
1847, and the present stonework put up in its stead. The condemned top now lies
on a raised plot of ground in front of the long colonnade running eastward from
the pillar. Many other restorations are said to be altogether out of keeping with
the rest of the pillar. Particular objection has been taken by antiquarians to the
entrance doorway, improved with new mouldings, frieze, and repairs of the
inscription tablet. The flimsy balustrades are pronounced to be an eyesore the
original ones having been rich and massive, like small battlements In short, the
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Kootub, like the works of Shakespeare, stands with a thousand mortal murders
on its head.
Now as to the origin of the Kootuba subject on which much speculation has
been wasted, and still the question is open for controversy. There are two parties
in the question, the warmth of whose discussions might lead one to suppose that
the apple of discord has fallen among them, and set them at loggerheads to
create an antiquarian schism. Great names head the two parties
23
and a regular
literary joust and tournament has been going on for half a century. Theories
professing the Hindoo origin of the Kootub are maintained by one party.
Theories professing its Mahomedan origin are propounded by the other. The
Hindoo party believes the Miner to have been built by a Hindoo prince for his
daughter, who wished to worship the rising sun, and view the waters of the
Jumna from the top of it every morning. It was a Mahomedanan old Moonshee
of the name of Syud Ahmed, in the service of the Emperor Akber Shah II.who
first ventured to give this opinion out, though at the expense of his countrymen.
The Mahomedan party repudiates this as an outrageous paradox, and would
have the Kootub taken for the unmistakable Mazinah of the Musjeed-i-Kootub-ul-
Islam. Various arguments have been advanced by the Hindoo-wallahs, which
their opponents have stoutly opposed. That the Minar, being placed by itself and
alone, is contrary to the Mahomedan practice,that its entrance door faces the
north as the Hindoos have their doors, whereas the Mahomedans always place
their doors facing the east,that if the Minar had been intended for a Mazinah, it
would have been erected at one end of the mosque,and that it is customary for
the Hindoos to erect such buildings without a platform or plinth, whereas the
Mahomedans always build upon a plinth,are points which have been all taken
up and ably disposed of by the late Archeological Surveyor of India. But still the
question is involved in very much the same obscurity as before, true, it cannot be
improbable, but it is difficult to persuade ourselves to believe, that such a costly
structure had been undertaken by a fond parent merely to please the fancy of a
daughter desirous of seeing the Jumna from its top. It is, what is often said in
common parlance, paying too much for a whistle, though she may have been
the daughter of the last Tomara, and the only offspring of her parent; or a noble
widow, pledged to a chaste devotional life. No man who sees the Minar can
mistake it for a moment to be any other than a thoroughly Mahomedan
buildingMahomedan in design, and Mahomedan in its intents and purposes.
The object is at once apparent to the spectatorthat of a Mazinah for the Muezzin
to call the faithful to prayers. The adjoining mosque, fully corresponding in
design, proportion, and execution to the tower, bears one out in such a view of
the lofty column, and there is the recorded testimony of Shams-i-raj and
Abulfeda to place the fact beyond a doubt. If a Hindoo Rajah had really laid the
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Sir T. Metcalfe was at the head of the Hindoo party.
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foundations, the glory of its completion cannot be denied to the Mussulmans.
The ornamental bells in the balconies are undoubtedly Hindoo, but they must be
admitted to have been skilfully rearranged under Mahomedan orders and
superintendence. The materials may be Hindoo, but the design is strictly
Mahomedan. The history of the Kootub is written in its inscriptions. The belts of
Arabic passages recording the praises of Mahomed Ghori, and the name and
titles of Kootub-ud-deen, leave no doubt as to the basement story having been
commenced by the latter during the lifetime of his Suzerain, and the completion
of the Minar by Altamash, is plainly recorded in the inscription over the
doorway of the fifth story. None dares to impeach these records as forgeries
and the Kootub seems to have been commenced in about A.D. 1200, and finished
in 1220. Unless at the risk of perpetrating a downright absurdity, one cannot be
blind to these positive evidences, and assign the pillar a Hindoo origin. To
determine such a thing, we would not even look at it in the light of a Jy-stamba, or
Pillar of Victory, that Hindoo princes were wont to erect in their daysnot even
as the triumphal pillar that Pirthi-raj may have raised to commemorate his
Victory of Tilouri. In such a case, the fact would have been noticed by the bard
Chand. Taking everything into an impartial consideration, the Mahomedan
origin of the Kootub is undeniable. But we would attempt to discuss that if it is
not Hindoo founded, it is at least Hindoo builtmuch as is the Musjeed-i-
Kootub-ul-Islam. Such a view of the matter is to be based on the comparative
state of Hindoo and Paten architecture in that age. That of the Hindoos may be
easily inferred from the graceful bells in the balconies, from the tall and tasteful
pillars about the place, and from the Hindoo temples at Muttra that warmed
Mahmood into admiration. In the plains of Candahar, there had not been a
worthy or magnificent structure till Hindoo masons had erected the Celestial
Bride. The Ghorians, like their Ghaznivide predecessors, have left no memorials
to attest their architectural greatness. They had little respite from their wars to
cultivate the arts of peace. No one like Firoz Togluk had been so great a
Mahomedan building-sovereign; and yet in his reign it was to a Hindoo that the
arduous task of the repairs of the Kootub had been intrusted. Up to the age of
Timoor Mahomedan architecture seems to have been in a rude state, or,
otherwise, he would not have carried Indian architects to build a mosque at
Samarcancl. Bearing all this in mind, it would not be hazarding a paradox to
state, that the Kootub is the work of Hindoo hands. Stern warriors and gloomy
fanatics chose little to indulge in architecturing. The wonderful Minar could
scarcely have been built without the developed architectural genius of the
Hindoos. The slope, that has been emphatically alluded to as the peculiar
characteristic of Patan architecture, is one of the first principles necessary to be
observed in all altitudinal structures. It is not the less observable in the columns
of Asoca, in the Buddhist temple at Sarnath, and in the ancient Khoomb at
Cheetore. In the same manner that Hindoo architects have built the isolated
Minars at Ghizni, has the Kootub been built also a detached Minar. The Kootub
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is as much without a plinth as are the Ghizni Minars. To the Hindoo masons may
we trace the reason of the entrance-door facing the north, when Mahomedan
antagonism had not reached the climax of building houses with doors facing the
east, because the Hindoos had their doors towards the north, of sleeping with the
face towards the south, because the Hindoos slept facing the northof bathing
with the face turned to the west, because the Hindoos did the reverseof eating
on the wrong side of the plantain-leaf, because the Hindoos ate on the right side
and of feeding upon the meat of buckree (she-goat), because the Hindoos ate
the buekra, or he-goat. The first Mahomedan conquerors made the Hindoo
masons work with the Hindoo materials, just as in our age Neill made the
Pandies to wash out the blood of their own shedding. It detracts not from the
merit of the Hindoos because the Mahomedan is the builder of the Kootub. Shah
Jehan is the known builder of the Taj, and why would yet the Europeans have it
attributed to the hands of a Frenchman, but to claim the merit of its execution?
The first steam-boat on the Goomtee, two generations ago, proclaimed the King
of Lucknow for its owner, but the genius of Englishmen for its invention. The
Kootub declares a Mahomedan builder, but the hands and genius of a Hindoo
for its buildingMahomed Amircho having acted merely as the taskmaster.
But be it Mahomedan or Hindoo, as we stood at the foot of the Kootub, and
gazed upon its majestic form towering into the sky, we thought of the ancient
Tower of Babel, and of Ravanas intended staircase for mortals to go up to
heaven. It was beyond all expectations of our lawyerthe grand dimensions did
not the more call forth his admiration than the minute details of ornamentation
resolved by the binocular. There was no old man to come and warn us that a
leopard had taken refuge inside, and that it had torn a native almost to death, to
deter us, like the friends of Dr. Russel, from making an ascent. Lots of people
appeared in the different balconies walking round the tower. The slim lawyer
trippingly went up the stairs, and at once mounted to the top. But to a man of
Falstaffs proportions, three hundred and seventy-nine steps make threescore
and ten miles in height. His windpipe threatens to burst before he can get up to
the first balcony. The feet refused their work, and in sheer despair we had to give
up all hopes of further ascent. Unless one had not to pride himself in the idea of
having been at the head of the Kootub, little is missed by failing to ascend the
very topnobody as yet having hinted that either the Himalayas or the Taj is
visible from thence. If the pinnacles of Govinjees temple at Brindabun could be
descried in former days, they have been thrown down, no more to meet the eye.
The brain also turns giddy, and the low balustrades make it a matter of some
danger to venture out into the balconies. About five years ago, writes Sleeman in
1844, while the Emperor was on a visit to the tomb of Khootub-uddeen, a
madman got into his private apartments. The servants were ordered to turn him
out. On passing the Minar he ran in, ascended to the top, stood a few moments
on the verge, laughing at those who were running after him, and made a spring
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that enabled him to reach the bottom without touching the sides. An eyewitness
told me that he kept his erect position till about half way down, when he turned
over, and continued to turn till lie got to the bottom, where his fall made a report
like a gun. He was, of course, dashed to pieces. About five months ago another
man fell over by accident, and was dashed to pieces against the sides. But no
man who has toiled to come up thus far, and see this worlds great wonder,
would very willingly forego the pleasure of a sight from its top, which he can for
once enjoy in his life. Overhead were only the unclouded heavens. The air blew
nimbly as in ether. The sun was about to set with that brilliancy which attends
his departing glory in the tropics. The scene around and below was wondrously
beautiful, and not a single feature in the expanded landscape escaped the eye.
For six hundred and forty-six years has the gigantic Kootub weathered the rude
assaults of the elements, and thousands of strangers from distant lands have
come like us to do homage to the mighty monument. Around it is a mass of
shapeless ruins that formed one of the most magnificent cities in the world. But
the generations who occupied that city, and raised upon the wreck of heathen
temples the earliest Mahomedan church, have passed away for ever. Not a
Mussulman is now called to prayer from its top, and the worshippers of Allah
have followed the worshippers of Vishnu and Shiva. The mosque has been
deserted,and snakes and lizards now crawl in its ruins. The Mazinah yet
stands, solitary, grand, and majestic,and, excepting the unavoidable and
irresistible effects of lightning, from the goodness of the materials, and the
excellent judgment with which they appear to have been put together, there is
every reason to suppose it would have withstood the ravages of time, for
succeeding generations to behold with admiration and astonishment, for yet
many ages,the world containing nothing like it even now.
The Unfinished Minar, which we passed by on our way to Altamashs tomb, looks
as if it had been brought from the land of Brobdignag. The originator had
evidently the idea to outdo the Kootub,the gigantic work, abruptly left off in
an early stage of its progress, with a rough surface of the grey stone of the
country, has twice the dimensions of that Minar. This curious relic, too, has given
rise to much difference of opinion as to the period and object of its construction.
The say of one party is, that the pious lady who obtained only a view of the river
Jumna, and not of the Ganges, from the first tower, urged upon her father to
build this second one upon a larger scale, but the work was interrupted by the
conquest of the Mussulmans. The other party rejects all this as most precious
nonsense, and would have the tower to have been undertaken by Allaud-deen,
the progress of which was arrested by the illness he fell into shortly after its
commencement, and from which he did not recover to carry out his design. This
story is the more likely,as standing due north from the Kootub in the opposite
extremity the column seems to have been intended for a second Mazinah,
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without which a Mahomedan church is essentially defective. From what is left,
we may form some notion of the size and proportions that the tower would have
assumed on completion.
To the north-west corner of the Kootub grounds, and abutting on the road, is the
oldest authentic Mahomedan monument in India, erected to the memory of that
early Ratan king, who is known under the name of Altamash. Considering its
age, and the exposure to which it has been subjected, the tomb is in wonderful
preservation. The interior walls are beautifully and elaborately decorated. The
building is of red sandstonethe sarcophagus, of pale marble, is in the centre.
The tomb is open at the top it looks as if the dome has fallen in. But it is
purposely that no screen has been raised between the man and heaven, to have
the way clear for a start on the day of resurrection.
Excursion to the Diving Wells in Mehrowlie. The oldest one is said to have been
dug by Anang Pal II. The depth of the new well is something over 80 feet, or
otherwise the water-line is not reached in this rocky soil. Great attention is
necessary for the preservation of waters in this region,and public wells and
tanks have existed in all ages to hold them.
Adam Khans Tomb.The haughty general, who could not be tamed by removal
from power, and who had been hurled from the battlements of a tower for
stabbing the vizier and foster-father of Akber, while at prayers in a room
adjoining that emperors apartment, seems to have the whole weight of a large
massive stone building laid upon him to keep down his troublesome ghost. The
dome towers to a great height, and the building has a simple grandeur. The
ungovernable Adam Khan was the Front-de-Boeuff of Mogul historydiffering
from that character of the great English novelist in this point, that he made no
magnanimous hesitation to approach the creature who was loth to become the
victim of his brutality. His Rebecca was the Hindoo mistress of Baz Bahadur, who
is said to have been one of the most beautiful women ever seen in India. She was
as accomplished as she was fair, and was celebrated for her verses in the Hindoo
language. She fell into the hands of Adam Khan, on the flight of Baz Bahadur
from Malwa; and finding herself unable to resist his importunities and
threatened violence, she appointed an hour to receive him, put on her most
splendid dress, on which she sprinkled the richest perfumes, and lay down on a
couch, with her mantle drawn over her face. Her attendants thought that she had
fallen asleep, but on endeavouring to wake her on the approach of the Khan,
they found she had taken poison, and was already dead. They have turned his
tomb into a billiard-room, and he is within the clutches of men mightier than any
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of his race. It seems that an avenging deity has sent them to plague his turbulent
spirit for the tragic end of the lady.
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In a circuit of the antiquities of Patan Delhi, it is curious to remark how few are
the great undertakings that are unconnected with religion. These Mahomedans
seem as if eternity was always in their thoughts. The buildings left behind them
have almost all a reference to a future statethey are either a mosque or a
mausoleum. Nobody knows where to find their proud palaces. The traveller
finds the tomb of Altamash, but not his palaceafterwards occupied by his
daughter the Sultana Rizia, since whom another woman now holds the destinies
of India in her hands. In vain you ask for the dwelling-house of the ascetic Prince
Nasirud-deen, who, seated upon the imperial throne, defrayed his personal
expenses by copying books, and, allowing no female servant, had his dinner
cooked by his own Queen. The horrors of the Mogul invasion had driven many a
royal fugitive for refuge in the Court of Bulbun. Long had the streets of his
capital retained the names of Roum, Ghori, Kahrizm, Bagdad, and other
kingdoms, derived from the territories of the royal exiles. But not a vestige is
seen of the celebrated Ruby Palace erected by that pompous monarch. The gross
minded. Kei Kobad, who made his own aged father to undergo the abject
Oriental obeisance of kissing the ground before the royal throne, had fitted up a
palace at Kilokeree, upon the banks of the Jumna, to enjoy there the soft society
of silver-bodied damsels with musky tresses, but nobody in that village now
recollects the site of that palace.
There are some remains, however, to the south-west of the Kootub, which your
guide would wish you to believe to be the ruins of Alla-ud-deens palace. The
walls are of enormous thickness, but much injured, and none of the rooms has a
roof left upon it. He may have lived here in the early years of his reign. Popular
report also believes this as his last resting-place, and if no trace of a sarcophagus
is found, it is because a new road has been cut through the tomb, scattering his
remains to the winds.
No doubt can be entertained as to the genuineness of the Alia Durwaza, or Gate of
Alla-ud-deen,bold inscriptions in Arabic recording his name over three of the
entrances, with the date of A. H. 710, or A. D. 1310. The reader who may have
read of his assuming the title of the Second Alexander, and of his conceiving the
most extravagant project of universal conquest like the Macedonian, will find
this a veritable fact from the addition of the title of Seconder Saul to the
repetitions of his name. In form, the gateway is a square of 34 feet inside, and
564 feet outside, the walls being 11 feet thick. On each side there is a lofty
24
The name of the lady was Rupamati. She was born at Saruugpoor in Malwa. Her songs are still sung all
over that province. They are composed in the Malwa dialect of Hindi. She had more than a common share
of the poets power.
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doorway with a pointed horse-shoe arch, the outer edge of the arch being fretted,
and the under-side panelled. The corners of the square are cut off by bold niches,
the head of each niche being formed by a series of five pointed horse-shoe arches,
lessening in size as they retire towards the angle. The effect of this arrangement
is massive and beautiful, and the mode in which the square is changed into an
octagon justly merits the praise bestowed upon it, as more simply elegant than
any other example in India. The interior walls are decorated with a chequered
pattern of singular beauty. In each corner there are two windows, of the same
shape and style as the doorways, but only one-third of their size. These are
closed by massive screens of marble lattice-work. The interior walls are panelled
and inlaid with broad bands of white marble, the effect of which is certainly
pleasing. The walls are crowned by a battlemented parapet, and surmounted by
a hemispherical dome. For the exterior view of the building this dome is, perhaps,
too low, but the interior view is perfect and, taken altogether, I consider that the
gateway of Alla-ud-deen is the most beautiful specimen of Patan architecture
that I have seen.
25
The Alai Durwaza forms the south gateway to the quadrangle
of the Kootub. The interior of it is yet in a fair condition, but on the outside it has
been a good deal injured. The delicate carvings in marble and red sandstone
have disappeared. The roof also must have received an injury, as the fine tracery
on the marble has been overlaid with a coating of cement and whitewash. The
Alai Durwaza may confirm the site of Alla-ud-deens early palace. The date of
the gateway corresponds with the year in which Cafoor returned loaded with the
rich spoils of the Carnatic. The vast treasures seem to have been laid out in such
costly structures, as well as the unfinished Minar There was an European artist
taking the photograph of the northern face of the beautiful gateway,having a
pretty lady to sit beneath the arch, to give an attraction to his subject.
Hard by, in a low walled enclosure, and on a raised terrace, is a pretty marble
tomb that covers the remains of Emam Zamin, the religious guide of Hoomayoon.
It is said to have been built in the lifetime of the Emam, about A. D. 1535, during
the reign of his religious pupil. The tomb of Emam Mushudee, the religious
guide of Akber, is to the west of the Musjeed-i-Kootub-ul-Islam.
Further on to the south-east is the tomb of Mahomed Koolee Khan, another of
Akbers four foster-fathers. The building is now fitted up as a European
residence, and is best known under the name of Metcalfe House, from its having
been the favourite resort of Sir Theophilus Metcalfe, Resident at the Court of
Delhi. The propriety of this conduct on the part of a statesman is open to
question. To cite the following from Sleeman, the magnificent tomb of freestone
covering the remains of a foster-brother of Akber, was long occupied as a
dwelling-house by the late Mr. Blake, of the Bengal Civil Service, who was lately
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General Cunningham.
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barbarously murdered at Jeypoor. To make room for his dining-tables he
removed the marble slab which covered the remains of the dead, from the centre
of the building, against the urgent remonstrance of the people, and threw it
carelessly on one side against the wall, where it now lies. The people appealed in
vain, it is said, to Mr. Fraser, the Governor-Generals representative, who was
soon after assassinated, and a good many attribute the death of both to this
outrage upon the remains of the dead foster-brother of Akber.Rooms are let in
the Metcalfe House for a rupee a day for each person.
Finished the tour of the antiquities, Hindoo and Paton of Delhi Proper. Our
movements were too hurried, our means of observation and stock of knowledge
too limited, to enable us to speculate properly upon the mystery which
overhangs many of the antiquities; and we have endeavoured to come to some
decision of our own from the labours, the researches, and the conflicting
opinions of others.
Thoroughly tired and thirsty, we found all enthusiasm cooled, and nought could
pull up our spirits again but a stiff ounce of brandy-pawnee, followed closely by
the cherootwhich the etymologist may define as the root of cheer. On a fine plot
of grass-land, with the Kootub rising in your sight, has a bungalow been put up
for a beautiful resting-place for the traveller. Thither we bent our steps, and drew
a chair, to take the stiffness off our back-bone. Our debut into forbidden ground
was an ominous puzzle to our stanch Hindoo coachee. He stood, with folded
hands, under a tree, and looked upon us as inscrutable beings, as we peeled off
an orange from a plate used by the Sahib-logues. Bread and butter were nest
served, and when brandy brought up the rear, it was an outrage of which he
could not remain to bear the sight. Poor fellow! How we regretted his being
scandalized in the eyes of the Mussulmans about the place,and how he must
have deplored that the day had gone by when such heresy justly merited the
gibbet! Could we have helped, it would have afforded us the greatest pleasure to
spare his feelings; and we curse the infirmities of human nature that such
customs have insinuated themselves among us. Time was when the Hindoo was
sober, and livers and apoplexies were almost unknown diseases in the land. He
has taken with great facility to drinking, and must reckon the change a mighty
fall. It was not for a boast or bravado, that sitting among the ruins of Delhi, with
the traces of Hindoo rule before our eyes, we chose to raise the wine-cup to our
lips; rather we felt it as it were a treason to our forefathers, and a high
misdemeanor to the shades of Dilu and Pirthi-raj. It was merely to chase away
the fag that flesh is heir to, for angels of heaven! Defend us from all tee-totalists,
who find poison in the billionth solution of a drop of grog, and condemn even
the drink of your nectar. Forgive us, Jogh Maya! Our failings and trespasses.
Strangers from a distant land, we apologize to thee, thou guardian deity of the
place! Thou hast built a house out of the ruins, and stickest like a decrepit dame,
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loth to quit her native spot. Thy priest is the only Hindoo who lives in the
desolate city, where a Hindoo had first been its king. It is curious to hear the
music of the eighty-four bells of thy temple, rung by the pull of a single string.
The Mussulmans around dare not stop it now with the cry of Allah is God, and
Mahomed is his prophet; To prayer! To prayer! They dispossessed thy followers,
and have been dispossessed in their turn, and their temples are now hotels,
and tombs billiard-rooms. The Moslem laughed at the Hindoothe Christian
now laughs at the Moslemand the day shall come when the Deist shall laugh at
us all.
The shades of evening were gathering round us, and still we lunched and
lingered among the ruins, which recalled the history of the ancient greatness of
our nation. Seldom have we passed a day with feelings of interest so strongly
excited, or with impressions of the transience of all human possessions so
strongly enforced as by the solemn solitudes of the desolate city of Old Delhi.
The Mewattee goat-herd, who looks at it from his mountain home, the
husbandman, who drives his plough to its very walls, and the lonely Brahmin,
who offers poojah among its ancient remnants, are all reminded of the glory of
their ancestors. Truly does a writer say that solitude, silence, and sunset are the
nursery of sentiment. But the reality of a rough stony road lay before us, and it
was not lighted with any lamps,so, taking a last look of the Kootub, and giving
a sigh to the memory of the good old days of Pirthi-raj and Sunjogta, we rose to
get ourselves in the gharry, and trace back to our lodge.
The homeward horse needed no spur to make the fastest use of its legs,and
there was yet the last glow of twilight to enable us to have a passing look at Siri,
or Killah Alai. This occurs at a place now called Shahpur, on the right-hand side
of the road, about four miles from Kootub, in the Delhi direction. Siri had been
founded by Allah-ud-deen on the spot where he had intrenched himself facing a
large Mogul army of 120,000 horse under Turgai Khan. This invasion had taken
place in 1303. The Mogul troops, encamping on the bank of the Jumna, most
probably about the spot where Hoomayoons tomb now stands, as it is the
nearest point of the river towards Old Delhi, had sat for two months, and laid
close siege to that rich city. The King, having his veteran troops then engaged in
Southern India, preferred to intrench himself on the plain extending to the north-
east of the suburbs of his capital, rather than risk a battle on unequal terms with
a formidable enemy. There was a saint living then, who, by supernatural means,
threw the Mogul soldiers into a panic, under which they hastily retreated away
to their own country. The King, coming out scot-free from the perils which bad
surrounded him, celebrated the joyous event by causing the fort of Siri to be built
on the spot of his intrenchment,the sites of standing camps having many a
time been converted into towns and cities in India. The hoarded wealth which
the conquests of Deoghur, Guzerat, Warangul, and other Hindoo kingdoms in
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the Deccan, had placed at his disposal, enabled him to gild the Patan capital of
that day with a dazzling splendour. But the magnificent buildings that were
without an equal upon earth, have now lost almost every trace of their existence.
The citadel of Siri has now only a few scattered ruins,Shere Shah having pulled
down its walls, and removed the materials to build his Shere-Gurh. Inside the
western half of this old, ruined fort, are observed the remains of a very extensive
palacethe celebrated Kasr Hazar Seitun, or the Palace of the thousand Pillars. In
this palace it was that the beautiful Kumalade held the savage Allah under her
petticoat government, and soothed that despot by her fascination in his moodiest
hours,that the Princess Dewilde and Ehizr made those loves which embellish
the history of that period with the colours of romance.
Just outside the south-east corner of Siri or Shahpur, is Rooshun Chiragh, or the
Lamp of Delhi. This is a shrine erected to the memory of a famous saint, built by
Firoz Shah. Saint or saitan, Rooshun Chiragh has a very holy name, and is one of
the guardian-angels of the Mahomedans in Delhi.
It was dark when we came to Hunumanjee. The coachman stopped the gharry of
his own accord, and made a strong appeal to our Hindooism to pay the god a
visit. He dwelt upon the particular sacredness of the deity to the Hindoo
population of Delhi, and urged us not to back the sins of commission with those
of omission. No go without humouring the fellow in his fit of piety,so we
alighted from the gharry, and followed him up a steep staircase in the dark. His
Honour the Hunumanjee lay in a small room, in which dimly burnt a feeble
chiragh,and extremely touched our pity by the poor figure he presented to our
eyes. He who had borne the Himalayas upon his shoulders, was now observed to
be crushed with the weight of years upon his head. He had before him but a few
years to drag on his life, and then he would be glad to quit a strange world about
him to join his Rama in the heavens. In our wanderings we have met with
Hunumanjee,and we would be glad to fall in with Bhoosundee, to ask him
whether he had to drink more blood in the wars of Shambhu and Neskambhu, than
in the late Sepoy Rebellion.
26
November 8. This morning we went on to Toglukabad, along a stony road,
through a rocky and barren country. The rocks are for the most part naked, but
here and there the soil is covered with famished grass, and a few stunted shrubs;
anything more unprepossessing can hardly be conceived than the aspect of these
hills, which seem to serve no other purpose than to store up heat for the people
26
Both Hunumanjee and Bhoosundee are said to have their lives protracted through the four Yugas of
Hindoo chronology. Bhoosundee was a crow, who had more blood than be could drink in the wars of
Sambhu and Nesambhu. Be just quenched his thirst with blood in the wars of Rama. But in the ware of the
Mahabarat he broke his beak by striking it against the hard dry earth which had soaked in the little blood
shed on the occasion.
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of the great city of Delhi. Hereabouts is a cut in the range of hills, made
apparently by the stream of the river Jumna at some remote period, and about
one hundred yards wide at the entrance. This cut is crossed by an enormous
stone wall, running north and south, and intended to shut in the waters and form
a lake in the opening beyond it. According to Cunningham, this great embanked
lake, three-quarters of a mile long and one-quarter broad, is the work of a
Tomara prince, called Mahipal, who reigned from A.D. 1103 to 1130. The
embankment was the work of Firoz Shah. On the brow of the precipice,
overlooking the northern end of the wall, are the ruins of the stupendous fort of
Toglukabad, which are chiefly interesting from their vast dimensions, and the
bulk and weight of the stones employed in them,such as called forth from
Bishop Heber the famous remark, that the Patans built like giants, and finished
their work like jewellers. In the words of Sleeman, The impression left on the
mind after going over the ruins of these stupendous fortifications is, that they
seem to have been raised by giants, and for giants whose arms were against
everybody and everybodys arm against them. Those who remember the early
military career of Ghies-ud-deen Togluk Shah, his repeated triumphs over
invading Mogul armies, and his name at last inspiring such terror amongst the
Moguls, that the women made use of it to quiet their children, and whenever a
man showed any alarm, his companions would ask, Why do you start? Have you
seen Togluk? Can easily reconcile the gigantic works and enormous blocks of
stone to his mighty genius and grand conceptions. The scale of buildings has
gradually risen from the works of Altamash to those of Allah-ud-deen, till it
has swollen into colossal grandeur in the vast works of Gheis-ud-deen Togluk.
The one cupola of considerable magnitude, over his tomb, has at last outdone all
former outdoings.
The fort of Toglukabad may be described with tolerable accuracy, as a half-
hexagon in shape, with three faces of rather more than three-quarters of a mile in
length each, and a base of one mile and a half, the whole circuit being only one
furlong less than four miles. The fort stands on a rocky height, and is built of
massive blocks of stone so large and heavy, that they must have been quarried
on the spot. The largest stone which I observed measured 14 feet in length by 2
feet 2 inches, and 1 foot 10 inches in breadth and thickness, and must have
weighed rather more than six tons. The short faces to the west, north, and east,
are protected by a deep ditch and the long face to the south by a large sheet of
water, which is held up by an embankment at the south-east corner. On this side
the rock is scarped, and above it the main walls rise to a mean height of 40 feet,
with a parapet of 7 feet, behind which rises another wall of 15 feet, the whole
height above the low ground being upwards of 90 feet. In the south-west angle is
the citadel, which occupies about one-sixth of the area of the fort, and contains
the ruins of an extensive palace. The ramparts are raised, as usual, on a line of
domed rooms, which rarely communicate with each other, and which, no doubt,
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formed the quarters of the troops that garrisoned the fort. The walls slope
rapidly inwards, even as much as those of Egyptian buildings. The rampart walls
are pierced with loop-holes, which serve also to give light and air to the soldiers
quarters. The parapets are pierced with lo* sloping loop-holes, which command
the foot of the wall, and are crowned with a line of rude battlements of solid
stone, which are also provided with loop-holes. The walls are built of large,
plainly-dressed stones, and there is no ornament of any kind. But the vast size,
the great strength, and the visible solidity of the whole give to Toglukabad an air
of stern and massive grandeur that is both striking and impressive. The fort has
thirteen gates, and there are three inner gates to the citadel. It contains seven
tanks for water, besides the ruins of several large buildings, as the Jumma
Musjeed and the Birij Mandir. The upper part of the fort is full of ruined houses,
but the lower part appears as if it had never been fully inhabited. The fort of
Toglukabad was commenced in A.D. 1321, and finished in 1323, or in the short
period of two years.
27
Of all the Mahomedan fortresses, that of Toglukabad was the greatest and most
important in India. The plan of defence had been devised by the genius of a great
and energetic warrior, who had vast resources left to him by his predecessors,
who had acquired the largest military experience in his age, and who fully
understood the enemy from whom he was to protect the country. But a
comparison of it with the Lalkot or Killah Kanouge, of the Hindoos, would not
give to it that immense superiority which it possessed over Siri or Sheregurh. In
position, the Lalkot as much looked down from the summit of a lofty rock as its
Mahomedan rival, and had perhaps greater advantages from the barrier of rocks
by which that position was encircled. The Jumna lay as .the foreground to
each,that river having flowed more immediately under the walls of the Hindoo
fort in a previous age. In point of details, the Lalkot would not suffer much by
comparison. The space enclosed within its walls was about a mile less than that
within the walls of Toglukabad. The height of the one was 60 feet above the
bottom of the ditch,the height of the other was 90 feet above the low ground. If
in the Lalkot the blocks of stone were not so enormous, the ramparts, 28 to 30 feet
in thickness, more than made up by their massive solidity. The Hindoo prince
had as much provided for the water of his troops by the excavation of tanks, as
had the Mahomedan. To the south of the Lalkot is a deep and extensive hollow,
once filled with water. To the south of the Toglukabad is a large sheet of water,
held up by an embankment. Nothing in respect of position, of materials, of
engineering skill, or of provisions, demanded by military foresight, appears to
make the fort of the Tomaras inferior to the fort of the Patans. Three and a half
centuries from the time of Anang Pal II., had produced no change in the weapons
of military warfare; and no improvement had suggested itself for introduction in
27
General Cunningham.
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the art of military fortifications. It is the occasion which calls forth the energies
and resources of a nation to strengthen its works for defence. The fort of Lalkot
was built at a time when the incursions of the Islamite formed the great source of
dread to the people of India. The fort of Toglukabad was built at a time when the
invasions of the Moguls formed the great source of dread to the Patna sovereigns.
In our own day, the fortification of Peshawar to put the frontier into a state of
defence has become a necessity, because the irruption of the Russians is the great
source of anxiety to our present rulers. No such apprehensions haunted the
minds of the first Mussulman princes, and they were content to think themselves
secure within the walls of the Lalkot. If the Hindoo fortress opened its gates to
the Patan conqueror, the Patan fortress in its turn yielded to the arms of the
Moguls; for, no doubt, troops must at last have fled for refuge within the walls of
Toglukabad from the army of Timoor, and that monarch could not have deemed
his conquest complete till he had pulled down the flag from the battlements of
that citadel. Men may continue to build forts so long as wars shall afflict their
race,but the saying of old Lycurgus can never fail to hold good, that a wall of
men is better than a wall of masonry.
No more, in all probability, would any use be made of the fort of Toglukabad.
The works that yet tower over the adjacent lowlands with a sombre and
tremendous majesty are crumbling and giving way in many places,the great
weight of the upper stones having forced the lower ones out of their positions.
Inside the walls is a vast well, which seems to have been cut out of the solid rock
to a depth of some 70 or 80 feet; it is about 100 feet in diameter.
The fine tomb of Togluk Shah, built by his son Mahomed, is situated outside the
southern wall of Tog-lukabad; in the midst of the artificial lake already described,
and is surrounded by a pentagonal outwork, which is connected with the fortress
by a causeway 600 feet in length, supported on twenty-seven arches. The stern
beauty and massive strength of the tomb, combined with the bold and massive
towers of the fortification that surround it, form a picture of a warriors tomb
unrivalled anywhere. In plan it is a square, each of the four sides having a lofty
doorway in the middle, twenty-four feet in height, with a pointed horse-shoe
arch fretted on the outer edge. The decoration of the exterior depends chiefly on
difference of colour, which is effected by the free use of bands and borders of
white marble, with a few panels of black marble on the large sloping surfaces of
red stone. The horse-shoe arches are of white marble and a broad band of the
same goes completely round the building at the springing of the arches. Another
broad band of white marble in upright slabs, four feet in height, goes all round
the dome just above its springing. The present effect of this mixture of colours is
certainly pleasing, but I believe that much of its beauty is due to the mellowing
hand of time, which has softened the crude redness of the sandstone, as well as
the dazzling whiteness of the marble. The building itself is in very good order,
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but the whole interior of the little fort in which it stands is filled with filthy
hovels and dirty people, and the place reeks with odour of every description.
Alas! poor Yoriek, where be your victories now? Where your redoubtableness?
and where the terror of your name that set children to fly to their parents?
Imperious Caesar, dead, and turnd to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
Oh, that the earth which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winters flaw!
It may be, that the splendid mausoleum is an atonement for parricidea sop to
quiet the ghost of an injured father; for very grave suspicions arise, that the fall of
the wooden pavilion which crushed old Togluk Shah was a contrivance of his
son and successor, Jonah Mahomed. The gallant monarch reposes by the side of
his queen. Near them lie the ashes of that son, whose presence must be an
intolerable bore to their manes.
To us, the man who, in a moment of caprice, had assembled an army for the
conquest of Persia, and then disbanded it ; who sent a hundred thousand men on
the insane expedition of subduing China, to perish only amid the snows of the
Himalayas; who, under a morbid fit, would take his armies out over the most
populous and peaceful districts, and hunt down the innocent and unoffending
people like wild beasts, and bring home their heads by thousands to hang on the
city gates for his mere amusement; who buried a tooth of his in a magnificent
tomb with all the solemn rites of sepulture ; and who, from a foolish fancy, twice
compelled the whole people of the city of Delhi to leave their homes and hearths,
and emigrate with him to his intended capital of Dowlutabad, making numbers
of the pining and miserable exiles to perish on the road from fatigue or from
famine;to us, the man who did all this had always appeared so wanton, and
Alnascharian, and distempered, and madly tyrannical, as to have been rather a
character of fiction than a prince who sat on the throne of Delhi; and it was not
until we had actually stood by his grave that our early prejudices about the
reality of his existence were dissipated. Thee fellow had commenced his rule
with a good earnest, by passing in great pomp and splendour from the fortress of
Toglukabad, which his father had just then completed, to the city in which the
dinar stands, with elephants before and behind, loaded with gold and silver
coins, which were scattered among the crowd, who everywhere hailed him with
shouts of joy. The roads were covered with flowers, the houses adorned with the
richest stuffs, and the streets resounded with music. But all this was good only
for a promising prologue. The great drama of his reign, acted for twenty-seven
long years, was a bloody tragedy full of scenes of the wildest caprices and the
most atrocious butcheries, without any unity of design or purpose. In this reign it
was that Ebn Batuta visited India, and, residing in Delhi, acted for a time as one
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of the magistrates of that city. He describes the Patan capital of that day as
consisting of four cities which, becoming contiguous, have formed one. It was
the first metropolis in the world, but had the fewest inhabitants, and was a
dwelling-place for the beasts of the desert.
In Hindoo demonology, a Marndoh, or the ghost of a Mussulman, is deemed the
most malignant,and Mahomed Togluks ghost would have to this day walked
the earth for mischief, had not his cousin and successor, the good Firoz, adopted
the following measures for his skating over the bridge of Al Sirai (of breadth less
than the thread of a famished spider, with hell beneath) into Paradise: I have
taken pains to discover the surviving relations of all persons who suffered from
the wrath of my late lord and master, Mahomed Togluk, and, having pensioned
and provided for them, have caused them to grant full pardon and forgiveness to
that prince, in the presence of the holy and learned men of this age, whose
signatures and seals as witnesses are affixed to the document, the whole of which,
as far as lay in my power, have been procured and put into a box, and deposited
in the vault in which Mahomed Togluk is entombed. The above words are of
Firoz Shah himself, as given by Ferishta, from the inscriptions of the great
mosque at Firozabad. The strange device of placing the vouchers in the tomb
ready for the dead mans hand to pick up at the last day is as bold as it is original.
It would be interesting to read some of these documents, which are, in all
probability, still quite safe, as all the tombs appear to be in the most perfect order.
This is all the use that can now be made of the good money of their subjects thin
wasted by our chimerical Mahomedan sovereigns. But the devil would be let
loose from his fetters upon mankind if the papers for his salvation were
abstracted to gratify our curiosity.
Mahomedabad is a small detached fort, near the south-east corner of Toglukabad,
which shows that the execrable Mahomed Togluk had not been also without the
rage for fort-building. The fort is in the same style as that of his father, but is
considerably smaller, being not more than half a mile in circumference. He had
no occasion to build this fort, and merely squandered away public money upon a
whim,and that, too, when he had been hardly pinched for funds himself, and
been harassing his subjects with the introduction of a copper currency.
Jehan-Pannah. This, again, is another monument of his folly, at the cost of the
nation. He had ruined a rich and populous old city, and sought to make amends
by building another in its stead. The defence of the unprotected suburbs,
plundered by the Moguls in an early part of Alla-ud-deens reign, is urged as a
plea to justify the outlay, but we can hardly assign so honourable a motive to a
despot who was worse to his subjects than an outside enemy. The site of Jehan-
Pannah is between Rai Pithora and Siri. The ruins of the old walled city are still
traceable at places. Including Lalkot, Rai Pithora, Siri, Toglukabad and its citadel,
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Mahomedabad, and Jehan-Pannah, the Patan capital of the fourteenth century
had grown into a giant city. The tourist who now stands amidst the ruins of that
vast city, has to build it up in his imagination as having seven proud forts, and
fifty-two noble gateways for admission within the circumvallation of its walls,
whence the origin of its designation of Bath-kills Bawun-durwaza, or seven forts
and fifty-two gates, under which it is sometimes called even to the present day.
Rome was a seven-billed, Delhi a seven-forted city.
One beautiful relic of the magnificence of that Patan city is the Neela Boorj, or
Blue Tomb, near the Hoomayoon. The name has been derived from the coloured
encaustic tiled roof, which has a striking appearance. It covers the remains of a
holy Seiad, or descendant of the prophet. The curious old ruin still retains traces
of its excellent encaustic glazing, but it shall hardly have its head up to satisfy the
curiosity of the next generation.
The Tir Boorj is another that was shown some two or three miles off in a western
direction. This forms a group of three tombs, the largest of which has the name of
Burra Khan. The others are called Chota Khan, and Kala Khan. The buildings are
of red sandstone, and, more or less, in a state of decay. Near them is Begumpore,
in which is a remarkable specimen of old Patan workmanship.
Hundreds of such lie around in a neglected state, but driving through the waste
of ruins, we turned in to see the tomb of Nizam-ud-deen Oulia. The place is a vast
Necropolisa Maniektolla to the Mussulmans of old Delhi. Three hundred
thousand martyrs are said to lie buried in the spot, and their sepulchres meet the
traveller at every step. Taking two Mahomedan lads for our guides, and
following them through turnings and windings that have become paved by the
sarcophagi of the dead, we arrived at the tomb forming the great object of
interest and veneration in the spot. The building has the graceful form of the
Tazia, but there is a quaint look about it, which cannot fail to be marked. The
small, low room in the middle seems to be the oldest and original part of the
structure,the handsome verandahs around it being most probably the pious
additions of a future date. The dome was added in Akbers time by Mahomed
Imam-ud-deen Hussein, and the whole building was put in thorough repair in
Shah Jehans reign. The inside copper roofing of the verandahs, painted in a gilt
flower pattern, is not more than 40 years old,having been put up by the father
of the last emperor. Much money has been spent on the exquisite marble lattice-
works. The pillars are finely covered with representations of birds and
butterflieswe doubt whether they had been in Aurungzebes time, who would
have found idolatry in them. The doors of white marble are deserving of notice.
The interior is painted with characters in Arabic, and there is a stand with a
Koran at the head of the grave. The sarcophagus is covered with a sheet of
English chintz, and over it is a wooden frame-work like a canopy.
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The man who reposes in this beautiful mausoleum was a saint as much
venerated by the Moslems as is Juggernaut by the Hindoos. His name was
Nizam-ud-deen, the disciple of Furreed-ud-deen Gunj-Shuker, so called because
his look turned clods of earth into loaves of sugar. Furreed was the disciple of the
celebrated Kootub-ud-deen, who again had been the disciple of Moin-ud-deen of
Ajmerethe greatest of all names in the heraldry of Indo-Mahomedan sainthood.
The great saintly feat of Nizam-ud-deen was the panic that he struck among the
Mogul troops of Turgia Khan in 1303. It is very likely says Sleeman, that he did
strike the army with a panic by getting some of their leaders assassinated in one
night. He was supposed to have the dust-ol-ghyb, or supernatural purse, as his
private expenditure is said to have been more lavish even than that of the
emperor himself, while he had no ostensible source of income whatever. The
emperor (Togluk) was either jealous of his influence and display, or suspected
him of dark crimes, and threatened to humble him when he returned to Delhi. As
he approached the city, the friends of the saint, knowing the resolute spirit of the
emperor, urged him to quit the capital, as he had been often heard to say, Let
me but reach Delhi, and this proud priest shall be humbled. The only reply that
the saint would ever deign to give from the time the imperial army left Bengal,
till it was within one stage of the capital was Delhi door ustDelhi is still far off!
This is now become a proverb over the east equivalent to our there is many a
slip between the cup and the lip. It is probable that the saint had some
understanding with the son in his plans for the murder of his father; it is possible
that his numerous wandering disciples may in reality have been murderers and
robbers; and that he could at any time have procured through them the
assassination of the emperor. The Mahomedan Thugs, or assassins of India,
certainly looked upon him as one of the great founders of their system; and used
to make pilgrimages to his tomb as such; and as he originally came from Persia,
and is considered by his greatest admirers to have been in his youth a robber, it
is not altogether impossible that he may have been originally one of the assassins
or disciples of the old man of the mountains; and that he may have set up the
system of Thuggee in India, and derived a great portion of his income from it.
Here is the whole truth out of Nizam-ud-deens sainthood, and Mahomedans
must hide their heads to have so long paid honours to a brigand.
The Poet Chueeros Tomb has that interest in the eyes of a traveller which there is
not a similar object in India to afford. Gorgeous tombs of princes and warriors
abound everywhere in the land, but not a monument has been raised to do
homage to our men of genius. In the length and breadth of our vast realm there is
the tomb of Joydeva, far away in the east,and there is the tomb of Chusero, far
away in the west. How engaging is it to our imaginations to stand by the grave of
him who moved about where he pleased through the palace of the Emperor
Togluk Shah, five hundred years ago, and sang, extempore, to his lyre, while the
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greatest and the fairest watched his lips to catch the expressions as they came
warm from his soul. The pyramid over his royal patron shall fade away, while he
shall live through ages in the every-day thoughts and feelings of millions. The
poet lies side by side in the same courtyard with the saint, his friend and
contemporary. His tomb forms a building similar in appearance. The grave also
has a covering of rich chintz,and not more reverence is called forth by piety
than by genius. No imaginary being, but a living Hindoo princessDewilde,
inspired the songs of Chusero. His honey-tongued Muse got him the surname of
the Parrot of India. The date of his tomb is 1350. In the eyes of the musing
traveller, the trees in the court and the flowers upon the tomb seem as it were
that the years best sweets deck the poets sylvan grave.
Next we turned towards the tomb of the well-known Princess Jehanara. In the
prime of youth and beauty, when her father was dethroned and imprisoned, she
applied for leave to share his captivity, and continued to wait on him as a nurse
and servant till the day of his death. The tongue of slander has made a demerit of
the pious discharge of her filial duties, and scandalized the vestal purity of her
fame with reproaches of a mysterious connection with her father. Far from the
remotest allusion being made to such conduct by Tavernier and Bernier, then
living in India, their testimony to her amiable, accomplished, and pious character,
and to every virtue adorning the character of a female, shall always be her best
defence from obloquy, and uphold her to posterity in the character of a Roman
daughter, and in the reputation of a saint, better deserved than by many who
have borne the name. Her mortal remains are covered with an unadorned marble
slab, hollow at the top, and exposed to the sky. Upon her tomb is read the
following modest inscription, The perishable Fakir Jehanara Begum, the
daughter of Shah Jehan, and the disciple of the holy men of Chisti, A.D. 1094, or
A.D. 1682. Her dying wishes were that no canopy should cover her grave; that
the grass was the best covering for the tomb of the poor in spirit; and literally
did a blade of grass grow upon the earth in the hollow of the marble. The holy
men of Chisti have been confounded with the holy men of Christ,and the
blunder is traced for the first time to the pages of Sleeman This may have
probably arisen from the fact of her having been so much after her brother Danes
own heart in all things, that she may have equally leaned with him towards
Christianity. But the Princess Jehanara was a devout follower of Mahomed, and
her name is still held in much veneration by the Mussulmans of Delhi for her
many religious benefactions. In the age she lived, and in the society she moved,
the question of ameliorating the condition of her sex could scarcely have
occurred to engage the philanthropy of a woman. The nation had not made the
progress in justice, benevolence, and humanity to feel the enlightened sentiments
of the present generation, and to rouse a female heart to the sacred duties, which
have endeared the names of Florence Nightingale and Mary Carpenter in our age;
and a high-minded lady of those times who could not anticipate the questions of
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fully two centuries in advance, had to give vent to the benevolence of her soul
through religious charities, instead of founding institutions for improving the
social position of womankind.
In an adjoining enclosure, formed by richly-worked marble screens, lies the
Emperor Mahomed Shah, who had an awful lesson of the mutability of all
human things, and the inevitable shiftings of property, read to him by Nadir. He
has his mother, wife, and daughter, all about him, and seems to be happier in his
grave than he had been upon the throne.
The Prince Mirza Jehangire, who killed himself as fast as he could with
Hoffmans cherry-brandy, by limiting himself to one large glass every hour till
he got dead-drunk,and who was verily the namesake of his ancestor in name
as well as in deed,lies in another enclosure that must have told much upon the
khana peena pension of old Akber Shah II. But a spoilt child is always the darling
of his mother,and it must have been to get rid of her curtain lectures, never so
distasteful as to a man who cannot make both ends meet, that the Emperor lived
perhaps upon one meal a day, to meet the expenses of doing the honour which
an imperious woman would have done to the remains of her son. The exquisite
workmanship of the marble screens enclosing the tomb, and the artistic
representation of foliage and flowers upon the sarcophagus, slowly gone
through for years, must have deprived that monarch of his favourite dishes for
many a day in Bishop Hebers opinion, the flowers into which the marble is
carved are as delicate, and in as good taste and execution, as any of the ordinary
Italian artists could produce. The tomb is dated 1832.
Led through a narrow passage or two, we passed by the Jumaat Khana Mosque, in
which a curious bell has been hanging from the centre of the dome since 1353.
Then we found ourselves over-looking from a low-roofed building, Nizam-ud-
deens Well, who is said to have originally commenced its excavation in 1321. The
reservoir is of an oblong size, about 60 feet long by 30 broad. Three of the sides
have been built up into lofty stone walls with niches, the fourth having a flight of
wide steps descending to the waters. There was in the cistern now about 40 guzz
of water, that an old Mussulman told us, and if it were to fill up to the brim, it
would hold 30 guzz or 50 feet more,but they have not the deluging rains of
Bengal here to fill the tank ever so high. The great depth did not appear to be an
exaggeration, considering the elevation of the soil of Delhi to be about 800 feet
from the level of the sea, and the rocky ridges into which the surface of the
country is broken. Our arrival had drawn a number of boys to show the diving
feats they are accustomed to do to strangers. They were none of them beyond ten
or twelve years, and stood in a range waiting for our permission to make their
spring into the well, from a height of 60 or 70 feet from the surface of the water.
The idea was formidable, especially to men who were not corks in the water,
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and we hesitated to give the permission that might make us amenable to the
Penal Code. But the boys and other grown-up men assured us of no accident,
and unwilling to come away without a sight of which every traveller has his gup
(talk), we made up our minds to take the risk of permitting the stoutest lad of
them all to make the perilous venture. Scarcely had the words gone out of our
mouth, before a fellow, joining his hands over his head, and opening wide his
legs, made his leap. The suddenness of the act and the novelty of the sight were
quite bewildering. Just before corning into contact with water he sharply closed
his legs, as if by instinct, and disappeared into the depthshis plunge making a
loud noise, and the waves of the splash sullenly closing over his head. In bated
breath we waited for his reappearance, which he made in a few seconds, and
then by dint of hard swimming gaining the steps like a water-rat, he ran to us for
buckseesh. The fellow was dripping from head to foot, and his teeth were
chattering from a bath in a cold November evening. But the trifling present of
four annas sent him away content to his hearts core. There were others who now
clamoured to have their plunge in turn but rather than consent to a repetition of
the nervous sight, we distributed a few pice to quiet them all. Two things proved
the great depth of the wellthe disappearance of the diver for about two
seconds, and his coming out in sound limbs, which he could nut have clone if a
sufficient body of water had not resisted the great velocity of his fall from so high
a summit. The well is said to possess miraculous powers of healing,perhaps
the cold water of the deep cistern gives a hydropathic benefit. Numbers come for
bathing at the annual festival that is held in honour of the exbrigand saint.
To turn from the dead to the living. Those Mahomedans who hang about the
place have the vile and miserable aspect that is a strong proof of the
unwholesome region in which they locate, and of the atmosphere of stench in
which they breathe. The men have lean famished appearances. The children look
to be withered in the bud. These animated spectres are more mischievous than
the spirits of the dead. Formally, they keep up a profession of reading the Koran
over the graves, and initiating boys in the secrets of the sacred volume; but, in
fact, their vocation is to cherish the traditional prejudices of their race, to recruit
the class of fakirs and fanatics, and to keep on sighing for the return of their
nation to powerthe gloom of the grave tingeing the actions of their lives.
The next scene of our rambles was Ferozabad, or more properly, the Kotila of Firoz
Shaha field from which many a fact may be culled to remedy the defectiveness
of an interesting chapter in the history of India. The reign of Firoz Shah has the
semblance of a refreshing oasis to the weary reader, who has to toil through a
barren catalogue of facts of warfare and bloodshed, spreading a dreary length far
in his rear, and far in his advance. Much of the history of that reign is written
upon the ruins of the various public works executed by that benevolent monarch.
The historian makes but a bare enumeration of those works in round arithmetical
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figures. To the traveller, however, who is not satisfied with Shams-e-raj and
Ferishta, the remains of many a noble monument tell a great part of the story
which has not yet been committed to writing. Those remains afford the most
valuable indications of the state of a world long passed away, and he treasures
up facts presented to his eyes and ears in a progress through the actual scenes of
that world.
From the account left by Sharif-ud-deen, the historian of Timoor, much help is
gained to ascertain the site of the different quarters of ancient Delhi, its public
edifices, its gates, and many places, which are now objects of interest to the
tourist. He gives us a general idea of the size and extent of that city towards the
end of the fourteenth century. It consisted of three cities, besides that of
Ferozabad. The first was Rai Pithora, or old Delhi, to the south-west, the walls of
which enclosed a space circular in form. To the north-east of this lay Siri, that
was smaller in size, and oval in shape. The large tract extending between the two
comprised the town of Jehan-Pannah, including most probably Toglukabad
within its precincts. No enemy from abroad could have reduced this magnificent
city to the degree of ruin which had been inflicted by the removal of the seat of
government to Dowlutabad by the capricious Mahomed Togluk. That maniacal
project had, in a few months, covered a circumference of twenty miles with the
desolation of a wilderness. People had been violently torn away from their
dwelling-houses and nurseries, to which they were bound by the strongest ties of
affection and interest. Thousands of families never returned from the foolish
errand to fill up the void of depopulation. In their abodes dwelt the owl and bat,
who always revel over the fallen grandeur of man. Thus had the proud
metropolis of Sath-killah-Bawan-Durwaza completely undergone a change,
which necessitated the building of a new city to form a fresh nucleus for the
habitations of men. It was begun by Firoz Shah in 1354, and received the name of
Ferozabad to perpetuate the name of its founder. The site of the new city was
chosen along the banks of the Jumna. It extended over a space of ten miles, from
old Indrapat to Kushak Shikar, or hunting-palace that was situated on the low
range of hills to the north-west of the modern city. The whole distance, says a
contemporary historian, was thronged with stone-houses, mosques, and bazars.
Little doubt need be entertained as to the truth of this statement, when the
resources of a long and peaceful reign for forty years had been employed upon
beautifying the city, and when twenty palaces, ten monumental pillars, five
tombs, besides colleges, caravanserais, hospitals, baths, and bridges, erected
alone by the emperor, must have taken to cover a third of its area. Taken at the
lowest estimate, the number of inhabitants populating that city has been
conjectured to have been about 150,000; and if we add 100,000 men more for the
population of old Delhi, the total number of inhabitants in the Indian metropolis
during the reign of Firoz Shah must have amounted to one quarter of a million.
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Many who read the account are likely to fall into the reverie of imaging to
themselves this gorgeous Delhi of 1380. But time, violence, and the plough, have
levelled everything that made it great in the eyes of mankind Here and there a
stately mosque or massive gateway may be seen, but the most marked features in
its topography retain not a trace of their existence. He who now drives down to
the Kotila, which is to the south of the present city, immediately outside its walls,
finds it a dreary field of rubbish. The gayest and most crowded part of it is a
scene of desolation in which he may startle the jackal, or come upon a family of
miserable squatters. There exists no longer the great mosque of Firoz described
by Timoors historians. Of the extensive palace of that emperor, which was also
his fortress at the same time, only one gateway is now seen to present a fine
specimen of bold but rude architecture. Heber is quite right to say, that it would
have been picturesque had it been in a country where trees grow, and ivy was
green, but is here ugly and melancholy. The walls and outlines of some of the
buildings are also extant, and there is met a mosque close to the high road in
tolerable repair. It is said there is a treasure-well in the ruins with subterranean
passages and chambers, and that some of these passages have outlets on the
Jumna.
Of the great pillar, popularly called the Lat or Staff of Firoz Shah. This is the most
remarkable of all the objects in the Kotila, as well as the monument of highest
antiquity in all Delhi. Till modern European scholars had read and expounded
the meaning of its inscriptions, much erroneous opinion had prevailed about this
pillar. It was the club of Bheem Sena of the Hindoos the walking-stick of the old
emperor Firoz of the Mussulmansand the pillar of Alexander the Great, in
memory of his victory over Porus, with Greek inscriptions of Tom Coryat, and
the other early English travellers, until, after the lapse of centuries, it once more
became appreciable to the last generation as one of the edict-columns of Asoca.
The pillar that is now just outside the Delhi Gate of the city was originally on the
bank of the Jumna, in the district of Salora, not far from Khizerabad, which is at
the foot of the mountains, 90 koss from Delhi From this description, the original
site of the pillar is supposed by Cunningham to have been somewhere near the
ancient capital of Shrughna, described by Hwen Thsang as possessing a large
Vihar, and a grand stupa of Asocas time containing relics of Buddha. The pillar is
stated to have been conveyed by land on a truck to Khizerabad, from whence it
was floated down to Ferozabad, or new Delhi. This removal took place about the
year 1356, by the orders of Firoz Shah, to confound the Hindoos who had
boasted of its immovable fixity in the earth. Underneath the pillar had been
found a large square stone, which also was transported and placed in the same
position as before, when the pillar was put up in the court-yard of Firozs palace.
In the face of this circumstantial account, which a contemporary writer has left of
the removal of the pillar, it can by no means be taken for the same that the bard
Chand speaks of as telling the fame of the Chohan. This must have been some
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other column that stood at Negumbode, and has disappeared from causes not
known now to anybody. It cannot be that Asoca had put up no column in a place
like Delhi. It was in his day as much a rich, flourishing, and populous city, as
Benares, Allahabad, Kosambi, Kanouge, and others; and there was no important
city then in India, in which he did not erect a monolith. To have his edicts widely
known, no spot in ancient Indraprastha could have been more eligible than the
ghaut of Negumbode, which was frequented by thousands for its sanctity and
the traditions with which it was associated, and where, in a subsequent age, Visal
Deva is said to have put up a record on the self-same pillar to give the widest
publicity to his fame.
Rising from the terrace of a three-storied building, the pillar lifts its tall slender
form, and is visible as a sharply clear object in the air from a long way off. It met
our eye from more than ten miles in the train, when coming down. The head of it
is bare nowthere is no ornamentation of black and white stone-work
surmounted by a gilt pinnacle, from which, no doubt, it received its name of
Minar Zarin, or Golden Pillar. This gilt pinnacle was still in its place in A. D. 1611,
when William Finch entered Delhi, as he describes the stone Pillar of Bisma,
which, after passing through three several stories, rises 24 feet above them all,
having on the top a globe surmounted by a crescent. The pillar is a single shaft of
pale pinkish sandstone, being of the usual height of all Asocas pillars - 42 feet 7
inches, of which the upper portion, 35 feet in length, has received a very high
polish, while the remainder is left quite rough. It seems that all the pillars of that
monarch were made to his particular order of a certain specified length. The
weight is rather more than 27 tons. In its dimensions it is more like the Allahabad
Pillar than any other, but it tapers much more rapidly towards the top, and is
therefore less graceful in its outline. The numerous pillars of Asoca, all of one
size, but of a variety of stones, arising from the respective rocks on which they
were quarried, exhibit an unequal workmanship which may help to throw some
light on the state of sculptural art amongst the ancient Hindoos in different parts
of India.
There are two principal inscriptions on Firoz Shahs pillar, besides several minor
records of pilgrims and travellers from the first centuries of the Christian era
down to the present time. The oldest inscriptions, for which the pillar was
originally erected, comprise the well-known edicts of Asoca, which were
promulgated in the middle of the third century B.C. in the ancient Pali, or spoken
language of the day. The alphabetical characters, which are of the oldest form
that has yet been found in India, are most clearly and beautifully cut, and there
are only a few letters of the whole record lost by the peeling off of the surface of
the stone. The inscription ends with a short sentence, in which King Asoca
directs the setting up these monoliths in different parts of India as follows:Let
this religious edict be engraved on stone pillars (aila thamba) and stone tablets
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(sila phalaka), that it may endure for ever. In this amended passage we have a
distinct allusion to the rock inscriptions, as well as to the pillar inscriptions. As
this is the longest and most important of all the pillar inscriptions of Asoca, I
made a careful impression of the whole, for comparison with James Prinseps
text. The record consists of four distinct inscriptions on the four sides of the
column facing the cardinal points, and of one long inscription immediately
below, which goes completely round the pillar. The last ten lines of the eastern
face, as well as the whole of the continuous inscription round the shaft, are
peculiar to the Delhi pillar. There is a marked difference also in the appearance of
this part of the inscription. The characters are all thinner and less boldly cut; the
vowel marks are generally sloping, instead of being horizontal or perpendicular,
and the letters j, t, s, and h, are differently formed from those of the preceding
part of the inscription.
The second inscription is that which records the victories of Chohan Prince
Visala Deva, whose power extended from Himadri to Vindhya. This record of
the fame of the Chohan consists of two separate portions, the shorter one being
placed immediately above Asocas edicts, and the longer one immediately below
them. But as both are dated in the same year, viz. S. 1220, or A. D. 1163, and refer
to the same prince, they may be considered as forming only one inscription. The
upper portion, which is placed very high, is engraved in much larger characters
than the lower one. A translation of this inscription was published by Colebrooke
in the Asiatic Researches; and his rendering of the text has been verified by H. H.
Wilson from a copy made by Mr Thomas. The reading of Sri Sallakshana
proposed by Mr. Thomas is undoubtedly correct, instead of Sri Mad Lakkshana, as
formerly read. I would suggest also that the rendering of Chahumanah tilaka, as
most eminent of the tribe which sprang from the arms (of Brahma), seems to me
much less forcible than the simple translation of Chief of the Chahumans, or
Chohan tribe.
The minor inscriptions on Firoz Shahs pillar are of little interest and importance.
They are, however, of different ages, and the more ancient records must have
been inscribed while the pillar yet stood on its original site, under the hills to the
North of Khizrabad. One of the oldest is the name of Sri Bhadra Mitra, or
Subhadramitra, in characters of the Gupta era. This is written in very small letters,
as are also two others of the same age. In larger letters of a somewhat later date,
there are several short inscriptions, of which the most legible is Surya Vishnu
Subhanakakana. Of a much later date is the name of the Saira mendicant, Siddh
Bhayankarnath Jogi followed by a trisul. The name of this wandering mendicant is
also recorded in the very same characters, but simply as Bhayankarnath, in one
of the Barabar caves in Behar. On the northern face there are two still later
inscriptions in modern Nagari, both of which bear the same date, of Wednesday,
13th, waning moon of Choitra, in Samvat 1581, or A.D. 1524. The longer
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inscription contains the name of Suritan Ibrahim, or Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, who
reigned from A.D. 1517 to 1525.
28
This antique and curious monument adds great
interest to the scene. The barbarous Jauts attempted to destroy it by cannon.
There was another of Asocas pillars which had been brought from Meerut by
Firoz Shah, and erected in the courtyard of his palace Kushak Shikar, near
Hindoo Raos house. It is now lying in five pieces, having been thrown down by
the explosion of a powder magazine in the time of Ferokshere. This tradition is
rendered almost certain by the statements of Padre Tieffenthaler, who resided in
India between A.D. 1743 and 1786. He saw the pillar lying just as it is now, in five
pieces, but he was informed that it was standing erect not long before, and that it
was thrown down by an explosion of gunpowder. The upper end of the middle
piece, which was inscribed with Asocas edicts, was sawn off some years ago,
and sent to Calcutta, where it may now be seen in the Asiatic Societys Museum.
In the Kala Musjeed, near the Turkoman Gate, is seen a characteristic and
favourable specimen of the architecture of the age of Firoz. Though built in 1387,
the style of this mosque is decidedly of an anterior date to that of the tomb of
Togluk Shah. The building is comparatively small and plain, but of solid
construction. From its original name of Kalan Musjeed, or Great Mosque, it is
likely to be supposed to have been the principal place of worship built by Firoz
for the inhabitants of his new city. The present name of Sala Hue-feed, or Black
Mosque, is most probably from the bare walls of dark grey quartose sandstone,
which have become visible after the coating of coloured plaster formerly
covering them has fallen off. The mosque consists of a single room 7 feet in
length by 4 feet in breadth, with two rows of four pillars each down the centre,
and one row of coupled pillars along the front. These columns divide the whole
area into 15 squares, each of which is covered by a small dome, the central dome
being somewhat higher than the others. This collection of small cupolas, each
resting on four pillars, so that the whole mosque is only a succession of alleys
between ranges of pillars, with no clear space of any extent, is justly remarked by
Elphinstone to betray the incapacity of the builders to erect a dome of any size.
The mosque is considerably elevated, making a total height of 66 feet. In the four
corners are four round towers, now in a very dilapidated state. The walls are 6
feet thick, with three openings at each end, closed by massive redstone lattice-
works. The middle of the lower story is a solid mass, forming the floor of the
musjeed. However imposing from its massive strength and solidity, it is by far
inferior in grandeur to the Kootub Musjeed. The great mosque of Ferozabad is
said to have been covered with inscriptions detailing the edicts and ordinances of
Firoz. Nothing of the kind appears on the Kala Musjeed. The noble mosque of
polished marble, in which Timoor offered up his thanksgivings on the day of his
28
General Cunningham.
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departure from Delhi, was situated on the banks of the Jumna. This one stands
more than a mile from that river in the interior. There must have been then some
other mosque to which the Mogul historians made their allusion, and which has
disappeared since the time of Ferishta, who made copies from several of its
inscriptions. It was this mosque of which the ornaments had also very much
attracted the notice of Timoor, and which in reality held the first rank that one is
inclined to assign to the Nolan Musjeed, from its name signifying the Great
Mosque.
There is a specimen of the ornamented mosque of the time of Firoz, which may
be seen near a group of tombs facing the entrance gateway of Sufter Jungs tomb.
This, in the opinion of Cunningham, corresponds exactly with the description of
Ferishta. Its front is entirely covered with inscriptions and draperied ornament in
a very hard plaster, which is still fresh and sharp, after the lapse of five centuries.
The interior walls are also thickly covered with inscriptions and ornaments cut in
hard stone, which are now as perfect as when first executed. The date of this
musjeeds erection is 1370; the Kola Musjeed was built seventeen years later.
Kirkheea fort, village, and musjeed in one, built by Khan Jehan about 1380, in
the reign of Firoz Shah, lies in the neighbourhood of Siri. The mosque is an
enormous structure, situated on high ground, and is built of dark-coloured
granite, and cased all over with black chunam, which gives it a very sombre
appearance. It is a square, supported at the four corners by towers nearly N feet
high; has two stories, and is crowned with 89 small domes of very plain but most
solid construction. The whole building is in excellent preservation, with the
exception of the north-east angle, the roof of which has fallen in, not however
from decay, but from the effects of a fire said to have occurred some 70 years ago.
The basement story consists of 104 small cells with arched ceilings, each cell
being about nine feet square. There is also a cell beneath each door and one in
each turret, making in all 112 cells. There are triple cloisters supported on single,
double, and quadruple pillars. The gloomy aspect of the interior, says a writer,
and the massiveness of the walls, are very striking, and none of the old ruins
around Delhi are more worthy of a visit than this Egyptian-like relic of Paton
architecture.
The Sut-poolla Bund, or sixty-arched embankment of Firoz Shah, may still be
traced from the village of Ladhoo Serai to the low hills near the village of Kirkhee.
The Boorj Mundul is a square tower and domed building of the same age. This
square fort is peculiar, there being nothing like it anywhere near Delhi.
By far the most useful of all the works of Firoz Shah was the great canal that be
dug for the irrigation of the valley of the Jumna. This canal, says Dr. Spry, affords
a striking illustration of pleasure having proved subservient to public good. The
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monarch, it appears was fond of indulging in the pursuits of the chase; and
discovering that the best lion sporting was to be found in the district of Hissar,
he frequently resorted thither with his court for the purpose of enjoying this
noble exercise. His retinue being very extensive, great difficulty was experienced
in providing water for the cattle, as the country thereabouts is sandy and very
dry. So arid, indeed, is the soil, and so scanty the supply of water, that it is often
necessary to sink to the depth of 130 feet before it can be found, and then it not
unfrequently happens that it is so brackish as to be unwholesome. Like a true
Mogul emperor, therefore, the monarch issued the commands for the formation
of this canal. He appears, however, to have been aware of the utility of such
undertakings; for besides this grand canal of Hissar, he caused one to be
excavated to the city of Delhi. Firoz Shah, therefore, could not have been
inattentive to the wants of the people. Although personal gratification was
doubtless the motive which actuated him to issue his mandate for the first under-
taking, the comfort of his subjects evidently prompted him to undertake the
second. The province of Delhi, therefore, has been, we may say, particularly
favoured from the time of Firoz Shah, for in no part of Hindoostan do we find
any works of such vast importance. Hissar is said to have been founded by
Sultan Firoz, who dug the canal to bring the waters of the Jumna near the city. A
dervise predicted his accession to the throne, and at the instance of this dervise
he dug the canal. The famines and other miseries, caused by the mal-
administration of his predecessor, were more than compensated by the
permanent advantages which the canal afforded. Conducted from the hills at
Rair on the Jumna, while the stream was yet pure and whole-some, for a distance
of 185 miles, the noble work gave fertility to a vast extent of country along the
banks. Crops were reared without dependence on the periodical rains. The
health of the communities improved from a supply of water free from the
impregnation of natron. The canal is yet flowing through Delhi under the name
of the Western Jumna Canal. More about this hereafter.
Hous-Khass is a village some four or five miles from the Kootub. In this village
does the good Firoz lie buried, after having left behind him so many works to
bless his memory. There is a bath or tank of his, the area of which covers a
hundred beegahs. But it is now a complete ruin, the surface being used for
cultivation.
Unquestionably, the reign of Firoz Shah was a great architectural age. But no
new models or no new styles then came into fashion, to denote an onward
progress of the art from the Kootub Musjeed to the Black Mosque. Rather the
later works are ruder, and wanting in that finish which is observed in the
buildings of the previous century. The horse-shoe arch could not be improved in
two hundred years. There is indeed much minute elegance, but it is impossible
not to recognize in the massive grandeur and austere beauty of the Patan
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buildings the characteristics of the grim and gloomy Patan. The people of his race
were poor in genius and invention, who introduced no improvement in any
branch of art. Though many of the works that lie strewed around the city of
Delhi are inseparably connected with their names, it is doubtful whether those
works are the triumphs of Patan or of Hindoo skill. There is nothing positively
on record to establish their undisputed claim. The honour of having called them
into existence certainly belongs to their nation, and the voice of tradition and the
common courtesy of mankind assign to them the credit of their authorship. But
there is the evidence of Baber to the contrary, that when he arrived in India, the
officers of revenue, merchants, and work-people were all Hindoos. In time, further
researches may throw greater light on the subject to do the justice which is due to
the Hindoos. Politically, the Patan may have been dominant, but he was in arts
the humble pupil of the ancient and time-honoured Hindoo.
The close of the reign of Firoz Shah also forms a salient point for observation in
the history of Delhi. In the space of two hundred years, from the first conquest of
the Mussulmans to the death of that monarch, the city of Judishthira and Dilu
and Anangpal had grown to a size which not even Rome or Constantinople
could boast of in their best days. Though it had often been the theatre of troubles,
and revolutions, and bloodshed, yet, in spite of every misfortune and every
misgovernment it had gradually and steadily made a progress towards
prosperity that made it greater under the Khiligis than under the Slave Kings,
and greater under the Togluks than under the Khiligis. The forty peaceful years
of Firozs reign produced the greatest changes in its topographical and physical
condition. In that interval, it had spread over the largest extent it had ever done
before or since, and reached its culminating glory under Patan rule. Palaces,
mosques, forts, mausoleums, caravanserais, colleges, baths, and many other
public and private buildings, adorned it in all quarters. To supply the inhabitants
with wholesome water, a noble canal traversed the city. The citizens numbered a
population of a quarter of a million. The goodness of their house and furniture,
and the general use of gold and silver ornaments by their women have been
emphatically put on record by the historians of the times. No ryot but had a good
bed-stead and a neat garden. The city was filled with shopkeepers, artisans, and
manufacturers of every description, and contained all that could make it a
desirable residence for a luxurious people. Travellers and foreigners who saw it
then could not enumerate the variety of its riches, or sufficiently admire its
grandeur. They at once acknowledged it to be the first metropolis in the world.
But the huge city was good only for striking the imagination. It was, after all, an
immense mass of human beings collected in the neighbourhood of the palace.
The sovereign who dwelt there knew only to exercise power by associating it
with pageantry. His greatest policy was to govern by dazzling the eyes of the
multitude. None of the elements of true greatness were to be found in the
prodigious cityno intelligence that enlarges the mindno fraternizing
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sympathyno public spiritand no patriotic devotion, to infuse life into the
unwieldy mass. Under a stately and gorgeous appearance, lay hid the inertness
of a bloated body that required only the touch of opposition to bring it to the
ground.
In a few years that opposition came in a terrible form. The mortal remains of
Firoz Shah had been scarcely laid in the grave before Delhi became a prey to
disorder and violence. Three claimants contended for the throne in the streets of
the metropolis. The state of that capital then may find an apt illustration in the
dream that had been dreamt by Timoor. He found that he was in a large garden,
and saw a number of people who were pruning the trees, and sowing seeds. The
garden was full of trees, both great and small, on the tops of which the birds had
built their nests. He thought that he had a sling in his hand, and that he
destroyed the nests with stones from the sling, and drove away all the birds.
Timoor was no idle dreamer. He interpreted his dream as a voice from heaven to
undertake the invasion of India, and commenced his march across the Hindoo
Kooshmarking his track with massacre and desolation. In the December of
1398, he came under the walls of Delhi, and sat before that city at the head of an
innumerable army. Probably, the place on which he had posted himself is the
open wide plain which still extends itself for miles to the south-west of the
present city. There can be no mistake about the localityit requires no lights of
generalship to see the only position that he could have occupied. Meanwhile, the
Delhi-ites had been thrown into the utmost consternation. The storm had burst
upon them with an astounding suddenness, and appalled them by the prospect
of an overwhelming danger. There was no saint now like Nizam-uddeen to send
a panic amongst the Tartar hordes. There was no general like Zafar Khan to stem
the torrent of the barbariansno Gheis-ud-deen Togluk to awe them by the
terror of his name. The king who reigned within the walls of the city was a minor
and a puppet. The army that garrisoned it was inferior in numbers, and divided
in councils. The treasury was impoverished. No assistance could be hoped for
from the provinces abroad. They had dismembered themselves, and looked on
with indifference, leaving the doomed city to its fate. The only hope of the Delhi-
ites lay in a train of war-elephants and a rocket brigade. Under these
circumstances the inhabitants, not daring to face the enemy, chose to keep
themselves inside the walls, and fast bolted up the fifty-two gates of the imperial
city. Far otherwise was the case with the besiegers. They were all obedience and
enthusiasm, while all was disunion and dismay among the besieged. They
pressed and pushed on with the vigour of a wolf to break into the fold. No
alternative was at last left to the faint-hearted garrison, but to move out to the
field, and decide the contest by a battle. The Patan king ostensibly headed the
troops collected under his standard. The proud Tartar invader got up on a hill,
and there stationed himself as a spectator of the battle that was
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to lay the rich capital of India at his feet. It is one of the low ridges that break the
surface of the country into uneven ground. Nobody now exactly remembers the
particular hill, but it is attempted to be pointed out, to the right, a few miles
down the road leading from the Delhi Gate.
29
The battle waged hot for an hour
or two. But, at length, the enervated Indians were borne down by the physical
superiority of the iron-nerved Tartars of the north. They drove back the
elephants that had been led to charge upon them; and many of the animals,
deprived of their guides, wildly ran over the field, and trampled alike upon
friends and foes in their maddened fury. No sooner had the ranks of the Indian
army begun to lose ground than its king took to flight, and escaped to Guzerat.
Thenceforth all resistance was given up, and a capitulation was concluded. The
town surrendered under a solemn promise of protection, and Timoor made his
triumphal entry into Delhi. He made the Khutbeh to be read in his name in the
great mosque at Ferozabacl, in the Kootub Musjeed, as well as in the Bala
Musjeed, and having his title thus acknowledged in all the mosques, proclaimed
himself emperor throughout the realm.
The Delhi-ites had made their submission, providing that their lives and
properties were to be spared by the payment of an adequate ransom. In levying
this ransom, however, disputes arose between the citizens and conquerors,
which led to blows. From one act of mutual violence to another, the fierce,
irritated Tartars gave themselves up to the usual riot and plunder of a barbarous
soldiery. They were men who did not know mercy even by name, and
commenced an indiscriminate butchery of all the helpless inhabitants of the city.
No distinction was made between Mussulmans and Hindoos the faithful and
the infidel were alike murdered. No respect was shown to womenthey were
first violated, and then driven out in chains. The flames went up at once from
many places, and irradiated streets streaming with blood, and choked with the
bodies of the dead. From Ferozabad, the troops went to massacre the inhabitants
of the old city, which had become crowded with fugitives. The last remnant had
taken refuge in a mosque, where two of Timoors most distinguished generals
rushed in upon them at the head of five hundred soldiers, and sent to the abyss
of hell the souls of the infidels. Their appetite grew with what it fed on, and still
longed for blood when there was not a victim left to bleed. Out of a population of
two hundred and fifty thousand, more than one third had been put to the sword.
There was another third that was dragged into slavery. Buildings on which
immense sums had been expended became wrecks in a few hours. The mass of
movable wealth collected in the various shops and warehouses was ransacked
and spoliated. The lovely Ferozabad presented a vast scene of bloodshed and
pillage. The beautiful Kotila was turned into a heap of ruins. Rai Pithora,
29
Further on, to the right, is the hill on which Timoor is said to have stood and witnessed the battle in
1308. Calcutta Review, No. XLI.
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Toglukabad, and Jehan Pannah became perfect pictures of desolation. Through
five whole days the work of destruction had gone on with unabated fierceness.
No doubt it originated in the cold-blooded and calculating policy of Timoor, who
remained a tranquil spectator, when he could have easily; carried out his
promises of protection by a single word of his potent command. It is said that,
while murdering, capturing, and carrying into captivity were going on around
him, the savage and imperious monarch had been comfortably engaged in
celebrating a feast in honour of his victory. Killing, in his opinion, was no crime,
but a pious duty of assisting God to fill hell chock-full of men and genii. The
groans of thousands, therefore, disturbed not his carousals, or the equanimity of
his temper. Having glutted himself with plunder, and killing as much as he
could to his hearts content, he gave the orders for the prosecution of the march
back to his capital. To call down the blessings of heaven, he made an ostentatious
show of the piety of a Mahomedan, by offering up prayers at the great mosque of
Ferozabad previous to his departure. He merely made a predatory inroad into
India, to kill a few millions of unbelievers, plunder the country of all the movable
valuables he and his soldiers could collect, and take back into slavery all the best
artificers of all kinds that they could lay their hands upon. He left no one to
represent him in India he claimed no sovereignty, and founded no dynasty there.
He left no traces of his visit but in devastation and blood, save and except in the
origin of a language, which is said to have first developed itself in the few days
that his hordes had to carry on their intercourse in the bazars of Delhithe
language that is now familiar under the name of Oordoo, of which the etymon is
traced by Tod to the word horde.
From the date of Timoors invasion may be dated the break-down of the Patan
power in India. It dismembered their empire, and split the great body-politic of
their nation into independent sections. The seat of their government was left
drenched in blood and reduced to ashes. To the present day may be seen some of
the tokens of that ruthless desolation. The city, which had swarmed with nobles,
and merchants, and thousand of human beings, became a solitude like an empty
beehive, from which the bees have been dispersed. Of those who fell in the
massacre, the bones lay whitening for many a day in the streets. Those carried
into slavery, formed a number so large as to overstock the slave market at
Sumarcand, and sell at two rupees the headamong whom were many of the
wives and children of a proud aristocracy.
30
Thus swept away, there remained
almost no inhabitants in Delhi. From a metropolis, it declined into the rank of a
provincial town. Juanpore and Lucknowty rose to become its rivals. For two
months after Timoors departure it remained without a government. The
wretched ruler who had fled from its walls, returned to live only as a pensioner.
30
This was the rate fetched by Mahmoods Hindoo prisoners. Timoors prisoners must have sold still
cheaper, we think, when his soldiers had a hundred and fifty slaves, and soldiers boys had twenty slaves to
their own share.
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Forty years later the authority of the Court of Delhi had collapsed so much, as to
be acknowledged in one place to within a mile of the city walls, and nowhere
beyond twelve.
No recovery was made till the reign of Beloli Lodi, who restored Delhi to much
of its ancient position and dignity. The tomb of that Sultan lies behind the shrine
of Rooshun Chirag. Perhaps he was the famous Dervish who had offered to sell
the empire of Delhi for two thousand rupees, and receiving sixteen hundred
from Beloli, had blessed him as the would-be king of Delhi. The tomb of
Secunder Lodi lies among the group that faces the gateway of the Seer Jung. It is
the larger one of the two octagonal tombs forming the northern group, and
connected together by a bridge of eleven arches. He resided in Agra, but reposes
in the family burial-ground at Delhi.
The next notable epoch in the history of Delhi occurred in the reign of
Hoomayoon, who repaired the old fort of Indrapat, or Purauah Killah, and called
it by the name of Deen-pannali, or the asylum of religion. Shere Shah having
made further additions, had the name changed again to Sheregurh.
Delhi-Shere-Shah, or the city founded by the emperor of that name, extended from
the neighbourhood of Hoomayoons tomb to Firoz Shahs Kotila. In the words of
William Finch, the city is two koss from gate to gate, and surrounded by a wall
which has been strong, but is now ruinous. The whole circuit of the city walls
was close upon nine miles, or nearly double that of the modern Shahjehanabad.
Nothing exists now of this Delhi-Shere-Shah excepting a fine massive gateway,
which formed the Kabuli Durwaza of that citythe same that is now called the Lal
Durwaza, or Red Gate.
Not so is Selimgurh, the frowning castle that first of all greets the traveller as he
makes his entry into Delhi, passing under its walls. That antique fort wears not a
less gloomy aspect from the heavy massive style of its architecture than from the
dark associations with which its name is connected. Though of a small size
being not more than three-quarters of a mile in circuitthe lofty towers and
massive walls towering abruptly above the river, produce a peculiar effect upon
the view. The Jumna flows round, washing it on all sides, and detaching it from
the mainland. This insular position, just at the north end of Shah Jehans Palace,
gives to the fort the appearance of an advanced picquet to guard the town from
the approach of a daring invader. The name of Selimgurh was derived from its
builder, Selim Shah, the son of Shere Shah. To efface the memory of this hateful
Patan name, Hoomayoon ordered it to be called Nurgurh. But nobody cared to
make use of this name except in the royal presence. The long arched stone bridge
by which it is connected with the mainland was built by Jellangeer. On the
erection of Shah Jehans larger and stronger fort, Selimgurh was used as a state
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prison. Hither had been carried Moorad, in a state of drunkenness, on the back of
an elephant, and imprisoned till sent off to Gwalior. Hither, after fifteen years,
had been brought back Seper Sheko, the youngest son of Dam, to unite his hands
with a daughter of Aurungzebe, and live upon a pension of six thousand rupees.
Mahomed Sultan, the eldest son of Aurungzebe, had also been brought back
from Gwalior to be married here to the daughter of the unfortunate Mooredhis
intellect impaired by the slow operation of the poust for fifteen years. Many a
royal eaglet of soaring ambition rusted and pined here, and had their ardour
cooled within the four walls of this dungeonand were a novel to be composed,
the secrets of Selimgurh would disclose incidents of the most moving interest.
The great levellerRail, has made its way breaking through the walls of the
ancient Patan fort, and thrown open the interior that was long the scene of a
cruel prison-life.
The curtain falls here to prepare for new scenes and new actors. One by onethe
Pandoo, the Tomara, the Chohan, and the Patanhave come on and played out
their parts. The last must now make his exit off the stage, singing his epilogue,
and salaaming to the reader. In the interim that the Mogul takes to make his
appearance, let him be content to refresh himself with a little (Weimer from Abul
Fazilcold, but nevertheless good for digestion, and of master-hand cookery.
Sultan Kootub-ud-deen, and Sultan Shums-ud-deen, both resided in the fort built
by Rajah Pirthi-raj. Sultan Balin erected another fort containing many
magnificent buildings: and he made it a law that any criminal who took refuge in
it, should escape punishment.
31
Kai-cobad built another city, called
Gunglookhery, which is situated on the banks of the Jumna. Amir Khoosru, in a
poem entitled Kerala Assadain, celebrates this city. Sultan Alla-ud-deen founded
a new city and fort, which is called Sin. Toglukabad was founded by Sultan
Togluk. His son, Sultan Mahomed, built another city, with a new palace, in
which is a very high building. In this palace are a thousand marble pillars. Sultan
Firoz also founded a large city, and named it Firozabad. He dug a canal from the
Jumna to this city, near to which the water passes. At the distance of three hoes
from Firozabad, he built another palace, to which he gave the name of Jehanama
(the director of the world). The late emperor (Hoomayoon) built the fort of
Indrapat, and called it Deen-pannah, or the asylum of religion. Shere Shah
destroyed the city of Delhi founded by Allaud-deen, and built another; but now
this new Delhi is for the most part in ruins. Here are many sepulchres of princes
and religious persons. On the mountain of Islamabad is a deep spring of hot
water; it is called Parbhass, and is a great place of Hindoo worship. Pussoo, one of
the nobles of Rekheyser, made a very deep excavation in this mountain of three
beegabs in extent, and which he dedicated to religious purposes: it remains to
31
This was the Killah Marzughan, spoken of by Ebn Batuta under the name of Dar-ul-aman, or House of
Refuge. This asylum was existing in his time, and he saw in it the tomb of Balin. Its site was at the present
village of Ghiaspore, near Nizam-ud-deens tomb.
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this day in its original state, and is a proof of the antiquity of this city. The
climate is temperate. Here grow most of the fruits of Persia, Tartary, and
Hindoostan; and there are a great variety of flowers. Here are many grand
buildings of stone and brick; and here are to be procured the productions of
every part of the globe.
To introduce now the Mogul. He came, thrashed, and prostrated the Patan, just as
the Patan had done the Hindoo. Though followers of one common religion, there
is a great difference between the two Mahomedan breeds. The mountaineers,
who came from Ghor, were illiterate and rude, who had the scimitar in one hand
and the Koran in the other. Nothing distinguished them so much as a merciless
ferocity, and a deadly hatred of the Hindoo name. The history of their race is the
history of cruel massacres followed by cruel contributions; of provinces
devastated; of cities razed to the ground; of temples demolished; of fine works of
art and curious remains of antiquity barbarously destroyed; of conquerors
treading down under the feet the conquered; of females driven to the zenana by
violence upon their honourin short, of plunder, intolerance, cant, and an
obliteration of all the landmarks of a great and interesting nation. The policy of
their government was the policy of the sword. They brought no laws or literature,
no arts or refinement, with them. The Mogul, however, was made of much
superior materials. He was civilized to a degree beyond any other nation then
known in the East. The Patna had everything to admire and imitate in India. The
Mogul had everything to turn up his nose at and condemn. Mahmood was in
raptures with all that he saw of Hindoo grandeur and opulence. Baber describes
Hindoostan as a country that has few pleasures to recommend it. The people are
not handsome. They have no idea of the charms of friendly society, of frankly
mixing together, or of familiar intercourse. They have no genius, no
comprehension of mind, no politeness of manners, no kindness, no fellow-feeling,
no ingenuity or mechanical invention in planning or executing their handicraft
works, no skill or knowledge in design or architecture; they have no good horses,
no good flesh, no grapes or musk-melons, no good fruits, no ice or cold water, no
good food or bread in the bazars, no baths or colleges, no candles, no torches, not
even a candlestick. The Mogul was not a gloomy, intolerant fanatic like the Patan,
but good-natured and conciliatory, who made it his policy to amalgamate the
foreigner with the natives of the soil. Under the Mogul, arts, manners, costumes,
and tastes, all took a new character. He attempted to win the hearts of his
Hindoo subjects by espousing many a Hindoo princess. He introduced the long
flowing gown. He encouraged the invention of the uttar of roses. He had news-
writers in his court. He first prohibited Sutteeism. He first ruled for the re-
marriage of Hindoo widows. He first patronized the cultivation of Hindoo
literature. The polite luxury of the Mogul contrasts strongly with the coarse
magnificence of the Patan. Taking architecture into consideration, for instance,
how the light and graceful dome of the Mogul beats the low cupola of the Patan.
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It was well that Timoor invaded India, and struck a death-blow to the power of a
narrow-minded, selfish, and cruel tyrant. The physical calamities of his invasion
may be deplored, but it paved the way for his descendants to rule India with
greater justice and benevolence in comparison.
Hoomayoons tomb.No tourist hesitates to acknowledge the truth of our remarks,
who visits the Hoomayoon, of which the white marble dome forms a
conspicuous object for miles around. Though the earliest specimen of Mogul
architecture, it fails not to throw into the shade all that the Patan has built,
excepting the Kootub. The immense dome is an immense stride to improvement
since the days of Timoor. The enclosed area in which the building lies forms a
square of 300 yards, laid out in beautiful shrubberies and fragrant flower-beds.
The marigold was in season, and displayed an exuberance of floral beauty
alongside the walks. In the centre of the quadrangle stands the mausoleum,
rising from two noble terraces, the upper one of which is about twenty feet high,
supported by arched cloisters all round the platform. The exterior form of the
main body of the tomb is a square with the corners cut off, or an octagon with
four long and four short faces, and each of the short faces forms one side of the
four octagonal corner towers. The dome is built entirely of white marble, the rest
of the building being of red sandstone with inlaid ornaments of white marble. In
this tomb we first see towers attached to the four angles of the main building. It
is true that these towers are very stout and massive, but they form an important
innovation in the Mahomedan architecture of North India, which was gradually
improved and developed, until it culminated in the graceful Minars of the Taj
Mahal.
32
One more innovation, also marked for the first time in this tomb, is the
narrow-necked dome, which was afterwards adopted in all the Mogul buildings.
Though Hoomayoons tomb is one of the greatest curiosities in Delhi, the
building is chiefly striking from the massiveness of its structure and the vastness
of its size. The lightness of style aimed at has been a total failurerather a
clogging heaviness mars the effect of its beauty. It has none of the airy grace
which marks the Taj. The narrow-necked dome is to be deprecated, as having set
an example of bad taste. The filagree workmanship of the lattice screens,
covering the windows and doorways, has little elegance. The ornamental
accessories on the outside of the tomb are poor in effect, there not being enough
to carry off the size of the dome. But as the original model on which all future
Mogul buildings have been improved and perfected, it must be acknowledged to
be eminently successful. The mausoleum was erected at the cost of fifteen lacs of
rupees, in sixteen years, from 1554 to 1570. It is the monument of affectionate
piety erected to the memory of her husband by Hamida Banu Begum. During his
32
In mentioning seriatically the intervening links, it did not strike General Cunningham that the tomb of
Etmad-ud-Dowla has been made to precede the gateway of Akbers tomb.
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residence beyond the Indus, Hoomayoon had been struck with the beauty of a
young lady whom he saw at an entertainment given to him, in the womens
apartment, by his step-mother, the mother of Prince Hindal. He found she was
the daughter of a Seiad, a native of Jam, in Khorassan, and formerly preceptor to
that prince; that her name was Hamida, and that she was not yet betrothed; and
so strong was the impression made on him, that, in spite of the angry
remonstrances of his brother, he almost immediately married her. The love that
is kindled at first sight, is the purest and tenderest of all known under that
name
Time tempers it, but not removes,
More hallowd when its hope is fled
And the tomb which the Begum built to console herself under bereavement is but
the realization of her last long sigh in a substantive form.
The unfortunate Hoomayoon, whose life had been saved by the substitution of
that of his father, according to the superstitious fatalists of the Eastwhose
abbreviated name of Hoomo is still used by Bengalee mothers to awe their
children into sleepwho had been forced to put on the Shia cap while an exiled
guest at the court of Persiaand who, after a series of misfortunes and
disappointments, had but just gained the crown of his tantalized hopes, when
death snatched it from his hands for everlies under a small raised slab, in the
centre of the circular room, forming the interior of the tomb. His father, who
could not get over the prejudice of even lying in India, sleeps far away in Cabul.
His were the flesh and bones of a prince of the house of Timoor, that first
mingled with the dust of India.
In a corner room, towards the left, lies his wife, Hamida Banu Begum, who spent
the years of her long widowhood in those pious acts and charities, which earned
to her the surname of Hadjee Begum, by which she is popularly remembered. Her
amiable maternal qualities must have exercised a great influence in moulding the
character of Akber, to act as the humane sovereign. She had been as much
tenderly loved by her husband as she had been the object of an affectionate
regard to her son, who had set out to try the effect of an interview with his
wayward son Selim, but left it off on hearing of the alarming illness of his mother,
and hastened to be present with his dutiful attentions in her last moments.
Many other sepulchres of males and females, of Princes and Begums, of
Shazadahs and Shazadees, lie in all the rooms and on the platform outsideas if
this mausoleum were a gathering-place for the members of the imperial family,
to rest at last round the great patriarch of their house. In strolling from one to
another, we were brought to the sepulchre of Darathe budh-bukhy Dara, who
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was born to, but not destined to wear, a crown. That noble and accomplished
prince, who never rode through the Chandney Chowk but upon the finest steed
from Persia, or upon the lordliest elephant from Pegu, who held soirees of poets,
philosophers, and divines in his palace every night, and who was the
acknowledged heir-apparent to the state, had, on becoming a prisoner, to make
his last appearance at Delhi under the most ignominious circumstances. He had
been mounted, along with his son Seper Sheko, upon an elephant old, dirty, and
the sorriest of its kind, perhaps, in the kingdom. It had scarcely any housings and
bore upon its back the mockery of a howdah. Dara sat within it loaded with
chainshis body scarcely protected by a dress of coarse linen, his handsome face
sunburnt and shrivelled, his hairs turned few and gray, and the rotundity of his
person wasted to a fleshless anatomy. The driver ahead, had on him better
clothings, and looked a genteeler person. Thus clad as a king of shreds and
patches, he was conducted up the Chandney Chowk, and other populous streets
of the city, to exhibit the irrecoverableness of his fall. He was then quietly led off
with his son to a prison in Chizerabad, in old Delhi. Therea ruin amidst the
ruins of the quondam capitalwas he locked up in the vaults of a castle more
than three hundred years old. He had but finished writing down the next days
lessons for his son, and, taking some lentilsthe only food he would touch for
fear of poison, had gone to bed. His boy was fast asleep upon a carpet beside him.
The noise of men under arms approaching his chamber then startled him. He at
once guessed the meaning of their visit, and, seizing a knife that lay by, stood in
a corner of the room. Seper Sheko also awoke. That no sympathy might be
awakened in the assassins, the wily Aurungzebe had taken care to in-trust the
commission to a mortal enemy of Dara, along with two others of notorious
ruffianism. These made heir entrance by breaking open the doors. They first
seized the boy, and removed him to an adjoining apartment. Dara was next
attacked, but he defended himself manfully, until overpowered by numbers. He
had been thrown down, when his throat was cut by the enemy who bore him an
old grudge. The head was carried to Aurungzebe, who had it placed on a dish,
and washed clean, and the blood done away, to see that it was no other but
Daras. He little fell short in this to the Scandinavians of old, who drank out of
the skulls of their enemies. Shedding a few crocodile tears, and drawing a moral
lesson of Oh, unfortunate man, he ordered the head to be taken away, and
buried in the tomb of Hoomayoon. Such was the man by whose grave we stood,
and over whose fate we mourned. It seems that the head ordered to be buried
had never found its way to the grave. The sarcophagus of Dara is of such a small
size, as to look like one over a child, and to give rise to the suspicion that only the
headless trunk has been interred.
Imperial trifler that he was, Jehander Shah, lying near Dara, excites no sympathy
for his fate. He loved the jollity of debauch, and exposed himself about the city in
company with his favourite mistress, Lall Koor, a public dancing-girl. The nobles
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were offended, and the people were disgusted at the sight of vices in their
sovereign, which reflected degradation on the meanest of themselves.
Misconduct in a civilized government ends in a recall, or at most, an
impeachment: in a despotic government, it is rid by deposal and death. Before a
twelvemonth had elapsed Jehander Shah was hurled from the throne to the
grave, and his dead body was exposed in the streets of Delhi. The death of cats
and dogs that despots die, squares the account of their wrongs and cruelties.
Feroksere and Jehander Shah, lying near to each other, show that intimate
relationship of cousins under the arms of death, which they could not do in life.
To Feroksere, the English East India Company had sent an embassy in 1715. In
that embassy had been a medical gentleman of the name of Hamilton. He cured
the Emperor of an indisposition that had been a troublesome hindrance to the
celebration of his nuptials, and so mightily pleased him as to get the first firman
of free trade for his nation. The marriage took place with the daughter of the
Maharajah Ajeet Sing of Jodpore. It was celebrated with a pomp and
magnificence which surpassed all that hitherto had been seen in Hindoostan
and the Rahtore Rajah, from his independent territory, saw his importance
acknowledged at the capital, whence he had in his infancy been conveyed with
so much difficulty to escape the tyranny of Aurungzebe. Feroksere had been a
mere tool in the hands of the Seiad brothersthe ring makers of India. He was at
last dragged forth from his hiding-place in the seraglio, placed in confinement,
and then put to death.
Ruhfeh-u-Dirjat and Ruffeh-u-Dowlah, the two brothers, lie side by side. They were
like two sickly plants nursed in the recesses of the seraglio, who were killed by
exposure to the rough breeze that blows about the throne. Consumption, and not
the sword, sent them to an early grave.
There is also Alumgeer II., the father of the prince who granted the Dewanny to
the English. He had assumed the pompous title of an ancestor, without
possessing any of his qualities. Alumgeer II. died of assassination by the orders
of his vizier, Ghaziud-deen Umad-ul-Mulk. The commission had been given to a
trusty Cashmerian, who stabbed the Emperor with poniards, and threw the body
out upon the strand of the Jumna. There it was stripped by the people and
remained exposed for eighteen hours.
Once more we went into the interior of the mausoleum and were shown the
crypt where the last Emperor Bahador Shah had fled as to a hiding-place, to
avoid falling an immediate victim to the fury of a heated, and elated, and
vengeance-breathing enemy. He was then past his eightieth yearit matters little
whether of solar or lunar months. His physical condition may well be imagined
when we know that he had become decrepit, and weak, and quivering, with
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feeble hanging nether liphis beard all turned white, his eyes grown dim and
filmy, his gums toothless, and his cheeks sunk behind the jaw-bonehe who
could hardly walk erect upon his legs, and seldom or never went out of the walls
of his palace. But age and infirmities had not quenched his thirst for power, or
sobered his views with the conviction of the futileness of human greatness; and
when a change came over the spirit of his dream, and there glowed a bright
kingdom in his vision, he identified himself with the cause of the rebellious
Sepoys. The bubble of his hopes burst on the fall and capture of Delhi. Conscious
of his implicationsat least of his answerableness for his shortcomings, he could
well anticipate the fate that awaited him. Under the instinct of fear, he sought to
be out of harms way. But in the wide realm there was not a spot where he could
securely hide his head. To flee away across the sea or mountain was a physical
exertion which required strength of nerves that he no more possessed. In
departing, therefore, from the hall of his fathers, he repaired to the cemetery
where he expected to be shortly gathered to them. There, in the sombre gloom
that fills the tomb, and in a low crypt, did he spread a carpet, and sat cowering in
fearhis life hanging by a brittle thread, and the ghosts of the murdered rising
before him like Banquos issue, to sear his eyeballs with the sight of their gold-
bound brows. In vain did he invoke and implore the shade of the patriarch that
slept before him to arise and shield the last of his race. The enemy was upon his
track; he was discovered, and dragged out from his hiding-place, to stand to the
charges of his crimes, and expiate them on a foreign shore.
The Shazadahs, who had shown themselves so lion-mettled in the beginning,
and whose bombasto-furioso spirit evaporated in the end, had sneaked into a room
on the top of the lofty gateway, and there fast shut themselves within stone walls,
to prevent every oozing out of their whereabouts. To give the account of their
seizure in Hodsons own words I laid my plans so as to cut off access to the
tomb or escape from it, and then sent in one of the inferior scions of the royal
family (purchased for the purpose by the present of his life) and my one-eyed
Moulvie Rajub Ali, to say that I had come to seize the Shazadahs for punishment,
and intended to do so, dead or alive. After two hours of wordy strife and very
anxious suspense, they appeared, and asked if their lives had been promised by
the Government, to which I answered most certainly not, and sent them away
from the tomb towards the city under a guard. I then went with the rest of the
sowars to the tomb, and found it crowded, I should think, with some 6000 or
7000 of the servants, hangers-on, and scum of the palace and city, taking refuge
in the cloisters which lined the walls of the tomb. I saw at once that there was
nothing for it but determination and a bold front, so I demanded in a voice of
authority the instant surrender of their arms, &c. They immediately obeyed with
an alacrity I scarcely dared to hope, for in less than two hours they brought forth
from innumerable hiding-places some 500 swords, and more than that number of
fire-arms, besides horses, bullocks, and covered carts, called ruths, used by
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women and eunuchs of the palace. I then arranged the arms and animals in the
centre, and left an armed guard with them, while I went to look after my
prisoners, who, with their guard, had moved on towards Delhi. I came up just in
time, as a large mob had collected and were turning on the guard. I rode in
among them at a gallop, and in a few words I appealed to the crowd, saying that
these were the butchers who had murdered and brutally used helpless women
and children, and that the Government had now sent thief punishment; and
seizing a carbine from one of my men, I deliberately shot them one after another.
The dead bodies were then taken into Delhi, and exposed in a public place.
From the top of the mausoleum a fine view is obtained of the country for many
miles around. Towards the north is distinctly visible the library in the Puranah
Killah, from which Koomayoon had the fall that brought on his death. On the
south, we saw the Burra-Pul, or great bridge, a long massive causeway on the
high-road to Bullubghur, built in 1611the same that Finch speaks of, a short
way from Delhi is a stone bridge of 11 arches. The village of Arab-ke-serai lay
spread out towards the west. It was built by Hajee Begum for the residence and
support of a number of Arabs, and has decayed now into an unimportant small
place, in which are two fine gateways still covered with encaustic tiles. No more
are any Arabs seen here their descendants have long since left the place, or
become so amalgamated with the surrounding population that all trace of them
has passed away.
Makburrah Khan Khanan is just outside Hoomayoons tomb, and close to the
Bullubgurh Gate of Arab-ke-serai. It was built by Mirza Khan, the Khan Khanan,
son of Behram Khan, and the second of Akbers generals, for the tomb of his wife,
but her body does not rest in the edifice. He himself, dying in his seventy-second
year, and the twenty-first of Jehangeers reign, was buried in this mausoleum. It
was originally principally composed of marble and red-stone, but in Asuph-ud-
Dowlas time the marble was extracted and conveyed to Lucknow, and since
then the building has fallen into a deplorable state of decay, the tomb itself being
all but destroyed. It is built on a 68-arched terrace, which is in many places in
ruins. The mausoleum is in the form of a square, with four doorways hollowed
in the walls, and bears but slight trace of its former splendour. The dome is bare,
and is seemingly built of rubble and masonry, the upper section forming a
separate chamber, which has a strong cement floor, and, strange to say, though
there are so many open windows, no birds have taken up their residence in the
empty apartment. The Khan Khanan was a great scholar. He has left a memorial
of his literary labours in the translation of Babers Memoirs from the Turkish into
the Persian.
Musjeed Esa Khan is a fine building, in the midst of a high-walled enclosure,
having at the four corners four light pavilions, with cupolas of encaustic tiles.
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The place is called Esa Khans Kotla, from the nobleman of that name in Shere
Shahs court, who built the place.
The tomb of Tagah Khan. This is over the remains of that foster-father and vizier
of Akber, who had been killed by Adam Khan while at prayers, in 1561. The
tomb is built of white marble and red sandstone.
The really most beautiful building of all in this neighbourhood, and one from
which may be dated the commencement of a new era in the architecture of the
Moguls, is the Chowsut Kumbha, or Sixty-four-pillared Hall. In design and
structure, it has anticipated the elegance and tastefulness of Shah Jehans
buildings. The style is light and airy, and one might trace in it the model of the
future Dewanni-Khas. Nothing but the finest white marbles enter into the
composition of its walls, pillars, domes, and everything. The edifice is square in
shape, and forms a new species of mausoleum. In it lies interred Aziz or Khani
Azim, the son of Tagah Khan, and one of the foster-brothers as well as generals
of Akber. His sarcophagus is elegantly carved and highly polished. This
nobleman having been long absent in the government of Guzerat, his mother
prevailed on Akber to invite him to come to court. Aziz excused himself; and it
appeared that his real objection was to shaving his beard and performing the
prostration. Akber, on this, wrote him a good-humoured remonstrance; but Aziz
persevering, he sent him a positive order to come to the capital. Aziz, on this,
threw up his government; and after writing an insolent and reproachful letter to
Akber, in which he asked him if he had received a book from heaven, or if he
could work miracles like Mahomet, that he presumed to introduce a new religion,
warned him that he was on the way to eternal perdition, and concluded with a
prayer to God to bring him back into the path of salvation. After this explosion of
zeal, he embarked for Mecca without leave or notice. In a short time, however, he
found his situation irksome in that country, and returned to India, where he
made his submission, and was restored at once to his former place in the
Emperors favour and confidence. Orthodox Mussulman as he was, the tenets of
his creed had not hardened the natural goodness of his heart; and the wealth and
influence that his position commanded were often employed in relieving the
wants of the poor and destitute. He is said to have been accustomed to feed the
needy with food stuffed with ahrufees, and the memory of his benevolence has
passed into a proverb
Kokul Tash Azim Khani-Khanna,
Jeska khanameh battana.
Khnai Azim of benevolent mood,
Who fed the poor with coins in his food.
The date of the Chowsut Kumbha is A. D. 1600.
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In tracing back from Arab-ke-serai towards Purana Killah, to the left of the road,
was pointed to us the Lal Bangalow. There are two tombs of red sandstone with
domes: the larger was built by the Emperor Hoomayoon before his expulsion
from his kingdom, about A. D. 1540, in honour of some of his wives, or as a place
of residence for them; and in the smaller tomb, Lal Kowur, wife of the Emperor
Shah Alum II., lies buried, and after her the buildings are termed Lal Bungalow.
The Kala Mahl, close to Purana Killah, and built in 1632, is now a complete ruin,
but is a striking object from the great extent of ground the buildings occupy. The
original plan seems to have been an open court-yard, flanked by domed galleries,
which below are completely broken through. The gateway must have been
handsome, but it is fast falling to pieces.
Once more a passing view of the Purana Killah and once more through the
scenes of ancient Indraprastha. Old Jumna can best tell about the site of that
memorable city. Her different channels in different ages have written upon the
surface of the land enduring records that should be read and compared with the
accounts of the Mahabarata and of tradition.
Facing Firoz Shahs Lat is a large and high-walled enclosure that is now used as
the Jail. It was formerly a serai or resting-place for travellers, built by the Princess
Jehanara of benevolent memory.
November 9th. Shah Jehannabad. This is the third day from our arrival at Delhi,
and all this precious while we have been out and out repeatedly to see only
heaps of ruins, and speculate among tombsboring the reader with sermons in
stones, and inflicting upon him inappreciable stuff about antiquities, not worth a
sixpence in the world. Today, we resolve, like a man who repents the folly of
misspending time, not to have to do anything more with old bricks and rubbish,
but to see the city that we have come to seeto go through its most interesting
curiosities, to move about among its living men, to know how they fare at this
place, to enjoy some of their tamashas, and then bid them a goodbye, and pack off.
Thus resolved to make a good use of the little more time that we have to stay
here, as well as not to ignore that the patience of the reader has no rubber-like
tension, we set out this morning to see the city that really stands upon the map
under the name of Delhithe Del-hi, or Heart of his Territories, as termed by
Shah Jehan. No more the stillness of a defunct city, but eternal bustle and
animation in its steadthe contrast between the two is as strong as between light
and darkness. In the one, you tread upon thousands and tens of thousands of
Mussulmans tombstones, with no ghost to take umbrage at your nonchalance. In
the crowded thoroughfares of the other, you cannot move on for two yards, but
have to keep an eternal look-out, and remember not to commit yourself by
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furious driving and manslaughter. Here, you are in a city where streams of a
living population continually pour through the streets, presenting endless
patterns of male and female faces, each a subject for ethnic or physiognomic
study where men buzz, and bazar, and make and expend money where
poojahs and prayers resound from the templeswhere the booming of cannon
announced the return of the Governor-General from the Hillsand where the
note of preparation is heard for the coming Durbar, to come off merry as a
marriage-bell, in spite of his Aurungzebe-like contempt for show and pomp. It is
the city that Bernier and Thevenot saw and described two hundred years ago.
Many a time has Delhi been taken and retaken, destroyed, rebuilt, and destroyed
again. Twice had it been deserted for Avanti and Agra. But, at last, towards the
middle of the seventeenth century, the city was built that stands yet, surviving
the shock of many a revolution and the overthrow of many a dynasty. It was
founded under the culminating days of Mogul rule. The monarch who then sat
upon the throne of India was the first and richest upon earth. His exchequer was
filled with the wealth obtained partly by presents, partly by purchase, and partly
by plunder. More than a hundred millions of subjects obeyed his behests from
Candahar to the Chersonese. The varied population possessed skill and genius,
developed by the tranquillity and patronage of nearly a hundred years. Added to
this, ingenious artisans from France, Italy, and other places of Europe, sought the
realms of the Mogul for that remuneration which they could not get in their
native countries. Workmen and labourers were not less abundant than draught-
bullocks, horses, elephants, and camels. The ruins of Old Delhi afforded the
gathered materials of several hundred years, and there were the quarries of Sicri
and Bhurtpore to get an inexhaustible supply of freestone from. Here, then, was
a gigantic government, endowed almost with creative power, and it is saidLet
there be a city, and there arose a city, as if by enchantment.
City-building then was undertaken from very different motives to those in our
daysvery seldom from political or commercial reasons, but generally from the
will and pleasure of a monarch. Because Shah Jhan sweated, and thirsted, and
panted fox breath under the summer heats of Agra, and because, perhaps, the loo
burnt and bronzed the fair face of Mumtaza, he willed to transfer his capital to
Delhi, and thousands of house-owners, who had to follow in his train, had either
to leave their properties behind, or to sell them for a nominal price. Though three
successive Governors-General shortened their lives, one Financier came and was
consigned to the grave, and another broke his health and went home to recruit it,
still the removal of the metropolis from Calcutta has not taken place, considering
the immense interests jeopardized. Such a removal would be worse than an
earthquake or an inundation. The crores of rupees that have been laid out on
Fort-William, the Government House, the Town Hall, the High Court, the Bank
of Bengal, the Post-office, and the innumerable palace-like buildings of our city,
would not then retain any value in the estimation of men. The credit of the
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municipality would be shaken to its foundation. Properties that are now fetching
2000 rupees per cottah would then be of little more value than that fetched by an
acre in the Sunderbunds, or in Cachar. The greatest house-owner who is now
esteemed a millionaire would find himself reduced to a provincial gentleman.
Money has to be made now by honest and life-long laboursand not by looting,
that men can suffer today, and be at ease tomorrow. The health of the Viceroy
cannot be a reason in our day for the building of a new City.
Not so were the properties of the ancient Agrawallahs respected or cared for by
Shah Jehan. He wished to remove to a more sanatory locality, and a city was laid
out upon a gigantic scale. The site chosen united both a prospect of beauty and
safety of position,for poetry has always had a share with politics in fixing the
situations of all the celebrated capitals of the world. It was upon two rocky
eminences or spurs of the Aravalli, that protruded themselves so far from the
interior as to be almost washed by the Jumna. They are known under the names
of Jujula Pahar and Bejula Pahar. The first preliminary in building a city is to fix
its size, and a space, five and a half miles in circumference, was measured out,
whether by means of the thongs of an ox-hide, as in the instance of Carthage, or
by the marks of a lance, as in the case of Constantinople, is not known: but
certainly not by means of the tape of our present civil engineers. The
circumference of this space was enclosed by a wall, excepting the river-side,
leaving passages for ingress and egress at intervals. It is only in the cities of the
last hundred years that walling has been dispensed with, and old Lycurguss
saying appreciated. The next step was to chalk out the roads, and they were done,
forming nearly a right angleone from north to south, and the other from east to
west. Then had to be built the palace or citadel, and it rose immediately upon the
river-bank, for cooling breezes across the waters, and fine open landscapes. All
that insured physical comforts and secure sleep had been provided. But the king
had a conscience that oft stung him with the remembrance of dark deeds, and he
built a mosque. Not to be confined to one dull spot, he also built a garden. This
completed the city, and it was denominated Shah-Jehanabad. Nought more
constitutes the city of a despotno colleges, no hospitals, no museums, no public
squares, no promenades, and no ghauts. He builds only what is needed for
himself, and leaves the people to shift for themselves.
Man appears to have originally taken his plan of city-building from his own
mechanism, and if one were in a humour to ask, how is Shah Jehan justified in
styling his new capital as the Heart of his Kingdom, why, he might find the
auricle and ventricle in the Dewanni-awm and Dewanni-khas, and the principal
artery and vein in the two roads, one branching off from the Delhi Gate, and the
other from the Lahore Gate of the palace. In the Roman Empire all roads led to
Rome not less than in the Mogul empire to Delhi,and this made the fibrous
system in the great body-politic. The reader must decide whether the Jumma
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Musjeed can be properly likened or not to the lungsthe action of which made
the pulse of the kingdom felt at the furthest ends to be beating regularly
Mahomedan.
Though Shah Jehan invited no man to follow him, and held out no inducements
to settle in his new city, still its peopling went on at a rate which the energy, the
perseverance, the glowing reports, and the premiums of Reclamation Companies
can never secure to populate their Utopias. Like a loadstar, the new capital
attracted men from all quarters. The Omrahs followed to shine round the throne
with lustre borrowed from royalty. The middling classes changed their
habitations, to reap benefits from a location in the great centre of business. The
commonalty repaired to the new abode, to place themselves within the pale of
royal munificence, patrician liberality, religious charity, and the ten thousand
calls for the use of their labour and limbs. It has been observed by a great writer,
that wherever the seat of government is fixed, a considerable part of the public
revenue will be expended by the prince himself, by his ministers, by the officers
of justice, and by the domestics of the palace. The moat wealthy of the
provincials will be attracted by the most powerful motives of interest and duty,
of amusement and curiosity. A third and more numerous class will insensibly be
formed, of servants, of artificers, and of merchants, who derive their subsistence
from their own labour, and from the wants or luxury of the superior ranks. The
king creates the metropolis. His viceroys create the provincial cities. Their
deputies create the second-rate towns,and so on, till the last village is formed
by the Mundul, or headman. It is always public establishments that help to
constitute the population of a place; by the expenditure which the officers make
of their wealth in the construction of works for private pleasure, or public
convenience. There is no other philosophy in the peopling of a new settlement.
Men must get something to eat, and not go and die, if a new port is to be peopled.
To go through the details, and compare what Delhi was and what it is now, the
tourist should start, Bernier in hand, upon a drive up the road which goes round
the city from the Cashmere Gate to the Delhi Gate. The circling sweep of an
embattled wall, enclosing the city, is seen to be much in the same state as before.
It is strong and high, built partly of masonry, and partly of stone. Along this
defence are disposed, at the distance of a hundred paces from each, other small
round towers, projecting towards the sky. There was no ditch, says Bernier, then
dug round the walls. Neither were the ramparts mounted with any artillery. The
parapets only were loop-holed for musketry. The original round towers formed
into angular bastions, the crenelated curtains, and the fine glacis covering three-
fourths or more of the height of the wall, that now meet the eye, are the
additions and improvements of English engineers of the present century. These
alterations, adding considerably to the strength of the fortifications, added much
to the cost of our Government in the Mutiny of 1857.
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In the wall are spacious openings for entrance into, and egress from, the city.
Over them are erected high and handsome arched gateways, which again are
surmounted by towers that formerly answered the purpose of stations for the
city guards. These entrances principally derived their names from the satrapies
towards which they pointed. They are called the Cashmere Gate, the Mooree
Gate, the Cabul Gate, the Lahore Gate, the Furashkhana Gate, the Ajmere Gate,
the Roumi or Turkoman Gate, and the Delhi Gate. There are two more gatesthe
Raj-ghaut, which is to the east, facing the Jumna, and the Calcutta Gate, to which,
ere this, led up the high road from Calcutta, and where now the Rail has fixed
the terminus of its progress from that city. Among these numerous, gates are two
or three the names of which will always be remembered in connection with some
of the proudest exploits in the military annals of the English in the East.
Finishing the circuit, you re-enter the city by the Delhi Gate, and fall into the
famous Chandney Chowk, or Silver Street, a name that has become common to the
principal avenue in all the great cities of India, ex-cepting in Calcutta, where the
street of that name, inhabited by no bankers or goldsmiths, but stable-keepers, is
certainly called by a misnomer. The Chandney Chowk reminds an Englishman
of Cheapside, and a Bengalee, of the Chitpore Road. This spacious boulevard
runs north and south from the Palace Gate to the Delhi Gate. Its length is more
than three-quarters of a mile, and breadth about fifty yards. The aqueduct,
running along the middle, was formerly of redstone, but is now of masonry.
When Bernier was here, the two sides of this street were lined with terraced
arcades, divided by partition walls, for the purpose of making each division a
separate shop. Behind each shop was a tuhkkanah, or low under-ground cellar.
Over this, the bunneahs and shopkeepers built their houses in a hand-some range,
which imparted to the street a very interesting appearance. Traces of some of
those topographical features may be discerned even now, after the lapse of two
hundred years. The Chandney Chowk, with its avenue, its aqueduct, and its
trottoir, is a pathway that surpassed all our expectations: the like of it is not seen
even in Calcutta. No banker now tells down the ashruffy on his counter here. No
goldsmith carries on the traffic in the precious metals, and there is no jeweller to
sell pearls and diamonds. In their stead are sweetmeat vendors, small mercers,
and provision-shops. How gay it must have been when Dara, who always
resided in the capital to be near his father, passed often up and down it in
brilliant cavalcades,when Aurungzebe, after offering his devotions at the tomb
of Nizamud-deen, and paying a visit to the sepulchre of his great-grandsire
Hoomayoon, slowly advanced, riding upon an elephant, at the head of his
victorious troops to make his entry into the palace,when emperors went
through in magnificent processions on their birth-days and regal tours, with
corteges of ambassadors, omrahs, and other dignitaries, and when Shahzadahs and
Shazadees made a show of their bridal splendour, like that in the tale of Lalla
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Rookh. In 1793, there still were handsome houses on each side of the way, and
merchants shops well furnished with the richest articles of all kinds. But now
this promenade is no longer the rendezvous of the merchants and shopkeepers of
Deli. No longer, in the afternoon, remains the celebrated Chandney Chowk, that
bustling scene which gave a good opportunity of seeing native costumes and
Delhi life. Its glories have ceased, and it is unlikely that the scenes of gaudy
pomp once there enacted will ever again meet the eye. The shops are probably as
brave in outward show as they ever were, but the moving throng of richly-
dressed natives riding on caparisoned horses, lounging on their elephants, or
borne along in parti-coloured palankeens, have passed away for ever. To the
lover of the picturesque this may seem to be a pityin an artistic point of view it
is ; but the British residents at Delhi probably feel more certain of their lives now
that the offscourings of Bahadur Shahs court are no longer at large.
The other great pathway is likewise from the palace to the Lahore Gate. It
stretches east and west, and, except that it is much longer than the Chandney
Chowk, it is equal in many respects to that street. Towards the end of the last
century, the inhabitants had spoiled the appearance of both these streets by
running a line of houses down the centre, and across them in some places, so that
it was with difficulty a person could discover their former situation without a
narrow inspection. It is this which has occasioned the slight irregularities in the
thoroughfares that were originally laid out in a right angle. Bishop Heber saw a
channel of water pass also through the middle of this street. But it has been done
away with, to make a trottoir, or raised walk for foot-passengers, in its room,
shaded by noble trees on either hand, with lamp-posts at intervals. Now that the
Dewalle is at its height, we had a faint image of the best days of the Chandney
Chowk in the gaiety of its shops and the people out in their holiday clothings.
Jumma Musjeed. Close to the Chandney Chowk is the Jumma Musjeed, without
seeing which no traveller can leave Delhi. The great eastern gate being closed, we
had to go round, and alight before the flight of steps at the northern gateway. In
the little angular plot of ground towards our right, were some half-a-dozen
sepulchresof faithful who reposed in holy church ground. Coming up, the
porters at the gate, finding us to be Hindoos, and, ergo, worshippers of idols,
forbad us to cross the threshold without leaving our shoes behind. Reduced as
the Patan has been to coolies, and cart-drivers, and duftries, and khidmudgars, and
coachmen, and groomsand reduced as the Mogul has been to a do-nothing, lazy
sensualist, to a coffee-sipper, and to a pipe-smoker, the Mussulman is a fangless
cobra, that bides the time to raise his head from the dust. He sufficiently humbles
himself before an Anglo-Saxon, but before a Hindoo immediately recollects the
days when he was paramount. It is the Hindoo, however, who first prohibited
the Mahomedan to enter and profane his temples. The Mahomedan retaliates by
shutting out the Hindoo from his mosques. Not caring to stand upon punctilio
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and in order to avoid much ado about nothing, we entered bare-footed, and
passed on to the courtyard. The day has gone by when it would have made the
sword of a haughty Mogul leap from its scabbard, to behold an infidel dare to
intrude into the sacred precincts. But not only did we intrude, but enter with
uncovered heads and an open umbrellaoffences that were instant death for a
man under the old regime.
Assuredly, the Jumma Musjeed is one of the grandest temples ever raised by
man. That which St Peters is to the Christians, the temple of Juggernauth to the
Hindoos, is the Jumma Musjeed of Delhi to the Mahomedans. It is the second
most remarkable building in Indiabeing next in rank to the Taj. Had it been
wholly of white marble, the grandeur and effect would have been immeasurably
greater: as it is, the redstone of the colonnades, and the pavilions, and the
courtyard, and the gateways, seems to be a blemish in the design, though it may
have been intended to set off the more the beauty of the white marbles of the
mosque by contrast. The Pearl Mosque of Agra is stainless, ethereal, and Peri-like.
The Jumma Musjeed of Delhi has more an earthly air about it. No other fault can
be detected by the most fastidious connoisseur. This mosque of Shah Jehan is
another proof of the triumph of the Mogul over the Kootub Musjeed of the Paten.
In all Delhi, the highest building is the Jumma Musjeed, towering above every
other object, and seen from every part of the city. It stands elevated on the rocky
eminence of the Jujula Pahar, the altitude of which is thirty feet above the surface
of the ground. The rock has been scarped and evened for the mosque. Round it,
as in Berniers time, once more now run four long and wide streets, to lead men
from all quarters to the various gateways of the sanctuary. The entrances are on
the north, south, and eastthe last being the principal, and by far the most
splendid. They are approached by flights of large circular stone steps. The doors
are covered throughout with plates of wrought brass, mistaken for copper by
Bernier.
The terrace or platform, upon which the mosque has been reared, is a square of
fourteen hundred yards, paved with fine large slabs of red sandstone. Three
sides of the magnificent terrace are enclosed by a beautiful arcaded colonnade of
the same material, with octagonal pavilions of white marble at the corners. In the
centre of the quadrangle is a pretty marble reservoir of clear and abundant water,
excavated, indeed, with immense labour in the solid rock. The water comes
underground from a distance of some three or four hundred yards, and is
supplied by machinery from the canal. None but the faithful are allowed to
perform ablutions in the reservoir. Our servant had unawares dipped his feet,
and was severely scolded for the profanationif it were the Mogul Raj, his head
would have been at once off from his trunk. The Mussulman who attended told
us, that the slabs of the whole pavement numbered 50,000, and that there could
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sit as many or more persons for prayer, on a festival. This may, or may not, be an
Oriental exaggeration. But the actual number of kneeling figures that met our eye
was some six or seven in different parts of the platform.
The mosque itself rises on the west of the platform, indicating the direction of
Mecca. In shape, it is an oblong, two hundred and one feet in length, and one
hundred and twenty feet in breadth. The top is surmounted by three magnificent
domes of white marble, crowned with richly-gilt copper cutlisses. On the two
flanks are two tall minarets, the fluting of which is composed of white marble
and red sandstone, placed vertically in alternate stripes. They are each 130 feet
high, and crowned with light, elegant, white marble octagon pavilions. The front
of the mosque is divided into ten compartments, of which the high, wavy
semicircular arches are beautiful to perfection. On the facings of the cornice are
inscriptions of black marble inlaid in the white marble, in the Nuski character,
giving an account of the date of, and the sums spent on, the building. The floor of
the mosque is paved throughout with flags of white marble, decorated with a
beautiful black border. The flags are about three feet long, by one and a half
broad, and their number is 900, capable, as it evidently appeared, of holding 2000
persons. Near the Kibla, in the compartment beneath the central dome, is a
handsome niche adorned with a profusion of frieze-work. Close to this is a pulpit,
which is said to have been cut out of a solid block of white marble, with the steps
and balustrades. Upon the wall over the niche was shown an autograph of Shah
Jehan, and also one of the ex-Emperor Bahadur Shah.
In the quadrangle, in the north-east as well as at the south-east, are pillars, on the
tops of which are fixed marble slabs, on one of which is engraved the Eastern
Hemisphere: on the other, there are marked certain hour lines; each has an
upright iron spike or gnomon, and the shadows shown by the sun indicate to the
faithful the time of prayer. There is also at the north-east corner of the colonnade
a little chamber formed by a highly-worked ivory screen, in which they show
you the book of the Mussulmans.
33
This is the manuscript of a chapter of the
Koran in the hand-writing of Imam Hosseins father. There is one also of Imam
Hossein himself. It is kept carefully wrapt up like a khureta of the Turkish
Emperor to the Governor-General. The precious manuscript was handed to our
infidel hands for examination: it is in parchment, the characters Kufic, and the
writing, fair and bold, of a trained penman. Turned over and over to detect if it
was a trick, but could come to no decisive or satisfactory conclusion. The
Hindoos cannot show a manuscript of the Vedas in Vyas handwriting. The
Christians cannot show the original of the Gospel in the handwriting of the
Apostles. It must be an uncommon piece of good luck for the Mahomedan to
33
The Koran, the Old and New Testament, and the Psalms of David, are called books by way of
excellence, and their followers, People of the Book.Elphinstone.
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have a copy of the Koran by the hand of the Prophets grandson. The rarity is
said to have been procured by Shah Jehan; and is reverenced with the holiest
feelings. They profess to show here also a hair of Mahomeds beardas they
show a nail of the Cross, and a robe of the Saviour, in Moscow!!! The greatest
curiosity of all was a print of the Prophets foot, on stone turned into wax
which out-Buddhisted the Buddhists of every age. The foot was of such a small
size, as sufficiently to indicate Mahomed to have been a short-statured, kota-
gurdaned, or low-necked, manand all low-necked men are proverbially the
greatest dooshmuns.
The size, the solidity, and rich materials of the Jumma Musjeed, says Heber,
impressed me more than anything of the sort which I have seen in India.
There is a chaste richness, an elegance of proportion, and a grandeur of design in
all its parts, observes Russell, which are in painful contrast to the mesquin and
paltry architecture of our Christian churches. How different is it now from the
palmy days, when, if the Nemazee Aurungzebe did not visit it at least once a day,
the shops of the city would have been closed, and the whole kingdom in a state
of ferment. The revival of the jezia, or poll-tax, by that monarch, had excited the
greatest discontent among the Hindoos. Those at Delhi and the neighbourhood
assembled in crowds, and besieged the lings palace with their complaints and
clamours. No attention was paid to these remonstrances. On the next Friday,
when the king was going in procession to the mosque, he found the streets
completely choked by the crowd of suppliants. He waited some time in hopes
that a passage might be opened by fair means; but as the mob continued to hold
their ground, he ordered his retinue to force their way through, and many
persons were trampled under-foot by the horses and elephants. The following
extract of an account, published in the Delhi Gazette in 1852, would help to give
an idea of the manner and style in which the last of the Timoorians performed
some of his ceremonies in the Jumma Musjeed A few days since, the
representative of the Royal House of Timoor, the veritable Great Mogul of British
history, and master of Hindoostan, and the rest of the universe, according to
traditions which were accepted as realities but a century since, celebrated at the
Jumma Musjeed (the principal mosque in Delhi) the solemn festival which closes
the fast of the Ramazan. Nothing of regal pomp was wanting to keep up the
semblance of kingship. Banners waved and guns thundered; and as the
monarchs elephant passed slowly along the line of procession, military bands
struck up in succession, God save the Queen, while the English present
uncovered their heads, and his Majesty, who never deigns to return a salute,
reverentially counted his beads. But for the undisturbed presence of booted
believers in the galleries which surround the sacred edifice, and the reckless way
in which a couple of sowers (horsemen) hustled the crowd right and left, to force
a passage for a solitary and unarmed European, one might have fancied that the
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days of Aurungzebe had come back again, and the English were a handful of
submissive traders, only too glad to purchase at any price the blessing of being
allowed to wear their heads and fill their pockets.
The Jumma Musjeed was commenced in 1629, and finished in 1648. It is said to
have cost ten lass of rupees. This was when coarse rice sold at about four annas
the maund, sugar at about one to two rupees, and ghee at some four to five
rupees.
34
Now that food and labour have increased tenfold in value, such a
building would cost at least four times as much. The Jumma Musjeed was a
hornets nest in the Mutiny of 1857, and its demolition had been warmly urged.
Luckily, the advice given under excitement and blind rage was not followed, and
the English name was spared from the obloquy of Vandalism. It was a greater
triumph to let it stand, and make it forbidden ground to the approach of
Mahomedan feet. The mosque was restored only a year or two ago. The great
eastern doorway yet remains closed,and nought could be so sore a humiliation
to a follower of the Prophet, as to have to come to his sanctuary facing north and
south, which compels him to ignore the position of the setting sun, and that
sacred of all the cardinal sidesthe treat, towards which rose that Prophet, and
lies the most famous shrine of his pilgrimageMecca.
Our next excursion was to the Fort, or Palace of Shah Jehan, which resembles a
city on a miniature scale. In circuit, the high red walls encompassing it are a mile
and a half. The space enclosed is 600,000 yards. There is no wall on the river-face.
Berniers account holds true to the present day, so far as the walls are five to six
feet thick, forty to fifty feet high, and flanked with turrets and cupolas at
intervals, similar to those on the walls of the city. They are built of granite, but
possess no more the beauty of polished marble. The wide and deep moat round
the walls, that he describes as full of water, and abounding with fish, is now all
drythe freestone pavement being beat upon by the sun. No longer, also,
beyond the moat, are there any gardens extending to the skirts of the royal abode.
He saw upon the walls a few field-pieces pointing towards the town. They do so
yet, but now the defences are inconsiderable against the effects of a moderate-
sized battery.
No alteration appears to have been made in the portal alluded to under the name
of the Lahore Gate. The entrance has to be approached through an outwork, and
consists of a large and lofty Gothic arch, surmounted by a tower ornamented
with pavilions. But over it a flag now waves in the air that would be an eyesore
to him, if he were to see itand in the tower where Danishmund Khan, his
master, may have had occasion to mount guard for having been the Mayor of the
city, are now the apartments of British artillerymen. Immediately after the
34
Refer to Abul Fazil for the accurate price.
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gateway an open octagonal court for the admission of light and air presents itself,
and then there is a long and lofty vaulted aisle, like that of a Gothic cathedral.
Whoever passes through this entrance must acknowledge it, with Heber, as the
noblest gateway and vestibule that be ever saw. Very hard fighting only could
have carried it under the science of ancient war. The finely-carved inscriptions
from the Koran, and the paintings of flowers, spoken of by the Bishop, have all
disappeared under the cheap and magnificent whitewash of modern days. Up in
the rooms of the tower was massacred the unfortunate officer who held the
command of the Palace Guards in 1857.
From the vestibule, in former days, you descended into a long wide street,
divided by a canal that Shah Jehan had dug to bring water to his seraglio. The
two sides of this street were flanked with walls between five and six feet high,
and four feet broad. A little beyond the walls were enclosed arcades
communicating with each other in the form of gates. It was upon this elevated
station that the registrars, clerks, and other petty officers of the Mogul
government transacted their business, without being interrupted by the horses
and people that passed the street,and it was also upon this spot that the
Munsubdars, or petty Omrahs, mounted guard at night to protect the imperial
residence. Heber saw the greater portion of these buildings in the state of a
ruinous and exceedingly dirty stable-yard. Russell observed them as mean
houses in various stages of decay, most of them shut up and deserted, and the
rest used as magazines of corn, and shops for the encouragement of a sickly
traffic with the few miserable men and women who found shelter within the
walls of the palace. We found not a trace of them, except in heaps of rubbish and
scattered stones, which were being removed for: clearance. Hereabouts is the
well, sheltered by a large tree, at which the poor English ladies were murdered.
There was next, as Bernier writes, a spacious court, enclosed on all sides by
arched walls that led to the abode of the emperor. It was entered by a majestic
gateway that reared itself against one of the arched walls, and bore aloft upon its
top the Nowbut, or Nagarra Khanna, for striking up the great state kettledrums.
These were sounded at regulated hours of the day and night, and produced ca
certain symphony not displeasing to the ear heard from a distance. The Nowbut-
Khanna exists, but it is no longer used as a Music Gallery, but an Adjutants
Office. Thundering guns, instead of a kettle-drum, announced the arrival of the
Viceroy from Simla.
Facing the Nowbut-Khanna on the inside, about a hundred and twenty yards
distant, is the first suit of the royal buildings, styled the Dewanni-aum, or the hall
of public audience. The ranges of two-storied buildings, once about this place,
with their walls and arches adorned with a profusion of the richest tapestries,
velvets, and silks, have all disappeared. The Dewanni-aum of Shah Jehan is
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considerably larger and loftier than the building of the same name at Agra. It is a
quadranglar hall, open at three sides, the roof of which is supported upon four
rows of tall redstone pillars, formerly ornamented with gilt arabesque paintings
of flowers, but now covered with the eternal whitewash. The building was now
occupied by the troops, and it was a great disappointment for us to miss the
celebrated Marble Throne which all travellers speak of with admiration,though
it was in a state, we were told, that did not make it a very great curiosity. This
throne is in an elevated recess, or niche, in the back-wall, from which it projects
into the hall, in front of the large central arch. There is a staircase to get up to it,
the seat being raised ten feet from the floor. The size of the throne is about ten
feet, and over it is a marble canopy supported on four marble pillars, all
beautifully inlaid with mosaic work exquisitely finished, but now much
dilapidated. In the wall behind is a doorway, by which the emperor entered from
his apartments in the harem. This wall is covered with mosaic paintings in
precious stones of various birds, beasts, fruits, and flowers: Many of them are
executed in a very natural manner, and represent the birds and beasts of the
several countries ruled over by Shah Jehan. On the upper part, in the centre of
the wall, is represented, in the same precious stones, and in a graceful attitude,
the figure of an European in a kind of Spanish costume, who is playing upon his
guitar. This has been interpreted into a group of Orpheus, charming the birds
and beasts with his music, and is what decides the work to be from the hands of
a French artist, mentioned by Bernier under the name of La Grange, alias Austin
de Bordeaux.
Upon this throne did Shah Jehan seat himself every day at noon, to receive the
compliments or petitions of his subjects. He appeared on such occasions in great
state, preceded by a cortege of mace-bearers, bearing silver figures upon silver
sticks. His sons sat on each side of him, decked in costly apparel and jewels.
Behind them stood in array eunuchs in rich liveries. Some of them drove off flies
by moving chowries made of peacocks feathers. Others waved fans of coloured
silk or velvet, embroidered with gold and precious stones. The chobdars and other
messengers waited next in respectful silence to receive the commands of the
sovereign. On a fine large slab of white marble, raised some three feet above the
ground, and fenced with silver rails, stood the vizier and other secretaries, in
front of the throne, to hand up petitions to their master, and to receive and
convey his imperial commands. Next to them stood in humble attendance
tributary Rajahs, dependent chiefs, and ambassadors from foreign princes.
Beyond them was the place for the Musubdars, who showed themselves in the
same attitude of respect and humility that marked the demeanour of the other
attendants in the hall. In the furthermost part of the building, as well as in the
outer court in front of it, thronged all sorts of people and visitants in one
promiscuous crowd.
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Thus hedged round by divinity, sat Shah Jehan, as the Vicegerent of God upon
earth, with his face turned towards Meccahis Great Mogulship, after all, being
elevated not more than ten feet above the level of mankind. As the people
approached over the intervening one hundred and twenty yards, between the
Nowbut-Khanna and the hall of audience, they were made to bow down lower
and lower to the figure of the emperor, as he sat upon his throne without
deigning to show, by any motion of limb or muscle, that he was really made of
flesh and blood, and not cut out of the marble he sat upon. He sat there for
dealing summary justice to humble suitors and applicants. If any petition was
raised afar in the crowd, it was ordered to be brought, and the contents read to
him. The parties concerned were directed to approach, their case was heard, and
the verdict given upon the spot. To give a sample of the justice of his Great
Mogulship. A young man laid before Shah Jehan a complaint, that his mother, a
banian, was possessed of immense wealth, amounting to two hundred thousand
rupees, who yet, on account of alleged ill-conduct, withheld from him all
participation. The emperor, tempted by hearing of so large a fortune, sent for the
lady, and commanded her, in open assembly, to give to her son fifty thousand
rupees, and to pay to himself a hundred thousand; at the same time desiring her
to withdraw. The woman, however, by loud clamour, again procured admittance,
and coolly said :May it please your Majesty, my son has certainly some claim
to the goods of his father; but I would gladly know what relation your Majesty
bears to the merchant, my deceased husband, that you make yourself his heir.
This idea appeared to Shah Jehan so droll that he desired her to depart, and no
exaction to be made.
Naturally, the hall where such justice was administered could not long remain to
be a place of that kind. The Great Mogul fell in time from his high estate. He got
quietly to eat of a fine pension. No suitor or applicant remained to him to disturb
his noon-day siesta. The Dewanni-aum, no more trod by any human feet, fell into
neglect. The marble throne has been for a long time covered with whitewash. The
inlaid work on the pillars of green blood-stone foliage, together with the mosaics
of birds and fruits, and the curious mosaics of Orpheus charming the beasts with
his music, the masterpiece of Austin de Bordeaux, have nearly all disappeared.
When Bishop Heber saw it, this hall was full of lumber of all descriptions, broken
palankeens and empty boxes, and the throne so covered with pigeons dung that
its ornaments were hardly discernible. How little did Shah Jehan, the founder of
these buildings, foresee what would be the fate of his descendants, or what his
own would be! Vanity of vanities! was surely never written in more legible
characters than on the dilapidated arcades of Delhi!
On one of the pillars of the Dewanni-aum, says Sleeman, is shown the mark of
the dagger of a Hindoo prince of Cheetore, who, in the presence of the Emperor,
stabbed to the heart one of the Mahomedan ministers who made use of some
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disrespectful language towards him. On being asked how he presumed to do this
in the presence of his sovereign, he answered in the very words almost of
Rhoderic Dhu,
I right my wrongs where they are given,
Though it were in the court of Heaven.
This is evidently a version of the story the scene of which was the Dewanni-aum
at Agra, and not the Dewanni-aum at Delhi.
The next suite of apartments is the Dewanni-Khas, or the hall of private audience.
There is certainly much to admire in this building, but the expectations raised by
reading are not half fulfilled. In richness of materials it may stand unrivalled, but
in point of architectural design it does not possess more than ordinary excellence.
The Chowsut Khumba has certainly anticipated it by half a century, and, since
that, no radical progress is marked that might have been expected to be made
under the impetus and auspices of a great architectural monarch. Of its kind, the
Dewanni-Khas may be considered as the highest effortthe ultimatum of Mogul
architecture. But as such, it does not exhibit that model of perfection which is a
proof of the highest artistic genius. The spectator is merely charmed, not struck
by any extraordinary magnitude or novelty. The building is simply elegant, not
colossally great to carry out the impressions of your reading. That which wealth,
rather than genius, is able to create, has been created with eminent success.
Rising from a terrace, elevated some four to five feet from the ground, the
Dewanni-Khas forms an oblong-shaped pavilion, which measures 150 feet in
length, by 40 feet in breadth. The height is well-proportioned to these dimensions.
The building has a flat roof, supported upon ranges of massive arcaded pillars,
all of a rich bluish-white marble. Between each of the front row of pillars is a
balustrade of the same material, chastely carved in various designs of perforated
work. The cornices and borders are decorated with a great quantity of frieze and
sculptured work. The top is ornamented with four elegant marble pavilions, with
gilt cupolas. In short, the Dewanni-Khas is an open, airy, and lightsome building,
possessing in the highest degree all those features which, suggested by local
climate, form the peculiarity of Indian architecture. It is advantageously situated
near the river, and affords, on a sultry night, the best place for delicious zephyrs
to fan you to sleep.
Nothing that is recorded in fiction or fact comes up to the magnificence of this
hall. Mere traces remaining of that magnificence are enough to show that the
reality of wealth develops those ideas of grandeur, which surpass all the
imaginings of imagination. The gorgeous Pandemonium of Milton, of which the
idea may have been taken from Berniers account of the Mogul court, is eclipsed
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by the Dewanni-Khas, the grandeur of which is not apocryphal, but a realized
fact. That jasper pavement, which the mighty poet deemed to be so rich as to
adorn the court of heaven, is seen here by every individual with his eyes broadly
open. The pillars and arches are ornamented with tendrils of bright flowers and
wreaths of bloodstone, agate, jasper, cornelian, and amethyst, that seem snatched
as it were from the garden, and pressed into the snowy blocks. There was a rich
foliage of silver filagree work covering the entire ceiling. The Mahrattas in 1759,
under their celebrated General Bhao, tore this down, and melted it into seventeen
lacs of rupees. It has been replaced by one of gilt copper worked in a flower
pattern. Never could the gorgeous splendour of this hall have been more
emphatically summed up than in the inscription which is sculptured in letters of
gold in the cornices of the interior roomIf there is a paradise upon earth, it is
this, it is this, it is this.
In this hall was the Tukt Taous, or the famous Peacock Throne. It was so called
from its having the figures of two peacocks, with their tails spread, that were so
naturally executed in sapphires, rubies, emeralds, pearls, and other precious
stones of appropriate colours, as to represent life, and strike every beholder with
the most dazzling splendour. The throne itself was six feet long by four feet
broad; it stood on six massive feet, which, with the body, were of solid gold,
inlaid with rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. It was surmounted by a canopy of
gold supported by twelve pillars, all richly emblazoned with costly gems, and a
fringe of pearls ornamented the borders of the canopy. Between the two peacocks
stood the figure of a parrot of the ordinary size, said to have been carved out of a
single emerald (?) On either side of the throne stood a chatta or umbrella, one of
the Oriental emblems of royalty; they were formed of crimson velvet, richly
embroidered and fringed with pearls, the handles were eight feet high, of solid
gold, and studded with diamonds. Tavernier, a jeweller by profession, and who
saw this superb throne, estimates the cost of it at six and a half millions sterling,
or six crores of rupees. The device was not original; it seems to have been taken
from a representation of the Karteek of the Hindoos. The umbrella, also, was one
of the insignia of Hindoo royalty. It was on the birthday of Soliman Sheko that
the joy of a grandfather had been especially manifested by Shah Jehans first
mounting the Tukt Taous.
It is recorded by Bernier, that the king appeared seated upon this throne at one
extremity of the great hall of the Amkhas, splendidly attired, his garment being
of white flowered satin, richly embroidered, his turban of gold cloth, having an
aigrette worked upon it, the feet of which were studded with diamonds of
extraordinary lustre and value, and in the centre was a beautiful Oriental topaz
of matchless size and splendour, shining like a little sun: round his neck was a
string of pearls, of great value, which hung down to his waist. The throne on
which he sat was supported by six pillars of massive gold, enriched with a
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profusion of rubies, emeralds, and diamonds and his other insignia of state were
embellished with equal grandeur. It is impossible to form any accurate estimate
of the value of these precious gems, since no one is allowed to approach near
enough to inspect them so minutely as to judge of their water and purity. This
much, however, I can say that the large diamonds were in great profusion; and I
have heard the throne estimated at four crores of rupees, nearly equal to sixty
millions of French livres. The Emperor Shah Jehan caused it to be constructed in
order to display the number of precious stones and glittering treasures which he
successively amassed, partly from the spoils of the ancient Patans and Rajahs
whom he subjugated, and partly from the presents which the Omrahs and
foreign ambassadors made to him upon certain festival days, as the only sure
passport to imperial favour. The art and workmanship of this throne are nothing
when compared to the materials of which it is composed; and the best devices
upon it are two peacocks inlaid with precious stones and pearls, which are
immutably well finished by a Frenchman, named La Grange, an ingenious
mechanic, who, after having duped many European princes, fled to this court,
where he soon realized a handsome fortune. Under the throne appeared all the
Omrahs splendidly attired upon a raised ground, with a richly-embroidered
velvet canopy, and the balustrade which encompassed it was of solid silver. The
pillars of the hall were magnificently ornamented with gold tapestry, and the
ceiling was covered over with beautiful flowered satin, fastened with red silk
cords, having at each corner festoons with gold tassels. Below nothing was to be
seen but rich silk tapestries of extraordinary dimensions. In the court, at a little
distance, was pitched a tent called the Aspek, which in length and breadth
somewhat exceeded the hall, and reached almost to the centre of the court. It was
likewise surrounded with a large balustrade of solid silver, and supported by
three poles, of the height and thickness of a large mast, and by several smaller
ones,covered with plates of silver. The outside was red, and the lining within
of beautiful chintz, manufactured expressly for the purpose at Masulipatam,
representing a hundred different flowers, so naturally done, and the colours so
vivid, that one would imagine it to be a hanging parterre. No mention of the
Koh-i-noor appears in this accountit must have been somewhere, either in the
Peacock Throne, or on the arm or turban of the monarch. Probably, the string of
pearls spoken of was the same that Runjeet Sing afterwards wore round his waist.
The cynicism of a poet may style all this as barbaric pearl and gold, but it is what,
after all, quiets the yearnings of all civilized men.
The Peacock Throne no longer exists. It was carried off as a trophy by Nadir Shah,
and had to be broken up, in all probability, into ten thousand pieces of stone,
now scattered all over the world. In its place is a simple marble throne that by
itself is not an ordinary piece of workmanship. In strolling through the hall we
paused before this throne; and as a monument of fallen greatness it failed not to
affect us with the usual sentiment of all is vanity under the sun. It may be looked
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upon almost as the seat of Shah Johan, and Aurungzebe, and Shah Alum,and
raises a host of associations that come rapping at the door of memory. Here stood
the graceful Soliman, his hands bound in gilded fetters, entreating in the most
pathetic language to be put to death at once, rather than be sentenced to die by
slow poison,thereby affecting many of the courtiers to tears, and making the
ladies of the harem to weep aloud from behind the screens. Here came Sevajee in
expectation of an honourable reception, but finding himself to be treated with
studied neglect, could not control his feelings of indignation, changed colour,
and sank to the ground in a swoon,while a daughter of Aurungzebe, seeing the
young stranger from behind a curtain, became enamoured of him. Here sat
Mahomed Shah bandying compliments with Nadir Shah, and sipping coffee,
while the corpses of a hundred thousand slaughtered Delhi-ites tainted the air. It
is related, that the coffee was delivered to the two sovereigns in this room upon a
gold salver, by the most polished gentleman of the court. His motions, as he
entered the gorgeous apartment, amidst the splendid trains of the two emperors,
were watched with great anxiety; if he presented the coffee first to his own
master, the furious conqueror, before whom the sovereign of India and all his
courtiers trembled, might order him to instant execution; if he presented it to
Nadir first, he would insult his own sovereign out of fear of the stranger. To the
astonishment of all, he walked up with a steady step direct to his own master. I
cannot, said he, aspire to the honour of presenting the cup to the king of kings,
your Majestys honoured guest, nor would your Majesty wish that any hand but
your own should do so. The emperor took the cup from the golden salver, and
presented it to Nadir Shah, who said with a smile as he took it, Had all your
officers known and done their duty like this man, you had never, my good
cousin, seen me and my Kussilbashees at Delhi; take care of him for your own
sake, and get round you as many like him as you can.
The Dewanni-khas is now all desolate and forlorn. It is a matter of heartfelt
regret to see the barbarous ravages that have been committed in picking out the
different precious stones. There is a mark of violence on one of the pillars, which
the Mahrattas attempted to break. No rose-beds or fountains about the building
nowonly the bare skeleton of it is standing. The Great Moguls hall of audience
was, till lately, used as a museum, the contents of which have been now removed
to the new Delhi Institute.
The freest public lounge is not more open to access than is now the seat of Mogul
jealousythe Seraglio. There was scarcely a chamber that had not a reservoir
adjoining itwith parterres, beautiful walks, groves, rivulets, fountains, grottos,
jets of water, alcoves, and raised terraces to sleep upon, and enjoy the cool air at
night. Now that everything has disappeared, this description of Bernier seems to
be almost imaginaryan account of the baseless fabric of a vision. The parterres,
walks, groves, grottos and raised terraces, have all ceased to exist. The alcoves
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remain, and are under reparation. The fountains are out of order. The rivulet
alluded to is a paved channel for the water of the fountains to flow in, and which
runs intervening between the ranges of alcoves on either hand. They showed us
the apartments called the Rang Mahl and the Mootee Mahl, always occupied by
the principal of the Begums. Glowing as the account is, the remains of the
apartments of the seraglio did not give us a very high impression of their
comforts and conveniences. The Begums had, after all, to dwell in one-storied
buildings, which the wife of a keranee does not do in Calcutta. The same had been
observed by us as to the zenana of the Nabob of Moorshedabad.
Next, to the Hummaume, or royal baths, which consist of three large apartments
surmounted by white marble domes. The inside of the baths is lined up to a great
way with marble, having a. beautiful border of flower-worked precious stones,
executed with great taste. The floors are paved throughout with marble in large
slabs, and there is a fountain in the centre of each, with many pipes. Large
reservoirs of marble, about four feet deep, are placed in different parts of the
walls. The light is admitted from the roof by windows of parti-coloured glass;
and capacious stones, with iron-gratings, are placed underneath each separate
apartment. The three baths are for being used differently as warm and cold.
Nearly a hundred maunds of fuel-wood, we were told, are required to warm the
water, and as this put him to an expense which could not be often spared from
his pension, the late emperor enjoyed his baths at rare intervals. No luxury that
the Great Mogul enjoyed came up, in our opinion, to the luxury of these baths.
The Peacock Throne did not give us a yearning to be a king even for a day, like
Abou Hasan, in the Arabian Nights. The hand of the Light of the Harem would
not have made us rejoice in our extreme good luck. But the Hummaums really
made us feel the wish of being metamorphosed into the Great Mogul, to taste the
pleasures of their luxuriousness.
We then passed on to the Tusbear Khannah, or Picture Gallery. The walls of this
apartment are painted in elegant flowers of a brilliant dye. They are, however,
mere daubs in the eye of an European, and are therefore being smeared over
with whitewash. It is doubtful whether the room had ever been put up with any
pictorial ornament to justify its namewhen the father of the late Emperor,
having had a portrait taken of him, considered the shadesa great blotch under
the nose, and his ladies thought as if he had been taking snuff all his life.
The Mooti Musjeed, the private chapel of the emperors, is beautifully chaste in
design and finish. It is now a crazy kiosk, in a state of neglect and dilapidation,
with peepuls growing from the walls and roof. It received the shock of a cannon-
ball in the late Mutiny; would it had knocked Mahomedanism on its head. The
Emperor Aurungzebe built, and acted as high priest at the consecration of, this
mosque. He was often seen here to pray, clad as an old fakeer, which fully
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justified the surname of Nemasee bestowed upon him by Dara. People were at
repairs to restore the building to something of its former elegance.
The Shah Baug, or the royal garden, as described by Bernier, was extremely
beautiful, and refreshed by numerous elegant fountains of white marble,
supplied from an aqueduct of the same material. Within its enclosure was an
octagonal pavilion, called the Shah Boorj, or the Royal Tower. It looked upon the
river, and was covered on the outside with plates of gold. The interior of it was
also gold and azure, and decorated with beautiful pictures and splendid mirrors.
Franklin, in giving an account of the state of Delhi in 1793, states:-- In the Shah
Baug, or the royal gar-dens, is a very large octagon room, which looks towards
the river Jumna. This room is called Shah Boorj, or the Royal Tower; it is lined
with marble; and from the window of it the late heir-apparent, Mirza Juwan
Bukht, made his escape in the year 1784, when he fled to Lucknow; he descended
by means of a ladder made with turbans; and as the height is inconsiderable,
effected it with ease. A great part of this noble palace has suffered very much by
the destructive ravages of the late invaders. Thirty-one years later Bishop Heber
describes, The gardens, which we next visited, are not large, but, in their way,
must have been extremely rich and beautiful. They are full of very old orange
and other fruit-trees, with terraces and parterres, on which many rose-bushes
were growing, and, even now, a few jonquils in flower. A channel of white
marble for water, with little fountain-pipes of the same material, carved like
roses, is carried here and there among these parterres, and at the end of the
terrace is a beautiful octagonal pavilion, also of marble, lined with the same
mosaic flowers as in the room which I first saw, with a marble fountain in its
centre, and a beautiful bath in a recess on one of its sides. The windows of this
pavilion, which is raised to the height of the city wall, command a good view of
Delhi and its neighbourhood. But all was, when we saw it, dirty, lonely, and
wretched; the bath and fountain dry ; the inlaid pavement hid with lumber and
gardeners sweepings, and the walls stained with the dung of birds and bats. In
our day, the Shah Baug appears to have gone to utter decay. The tower exists,
and traces of gilding and enamel, alluded to by Bernier, remain to attest its
former splendour. Here the Great Mogul seems to have aired himself with the
cool breezes of the river, to have smoked, and gossiped, and shaken off the cares
of state.
At the Delhi Gate of the palace there formerly were two very conspicuous statues
of two stone elephants, with two warriors seated upon them. On the first of July,
1663, thus wrote Bernier:-- I find nothing remarkable at the entry, but two great
elephants of stone, which are on the two sides of the gate. Upon one of them is
the statue of Jeimul, the famous Rajah of Cheetore, and upon the other that of
Puttoo, his brother. These are those two gallant men that, together with their
mother, who was yet braver than they, cut out so much work for Eckbar; and who,
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in the sieges of towns, which they maintained against him, gave such
extraordinary proofs of their generosity that at length they would rather be killed
in the outfalls with their mother than submit: and for this gallantry it was that
even their enemies thought them worthy to have these statues erected for them.
These two great elephants, together with the two resolute men sitting on them,
do, at the first entry into this fortress, make an impression of I know not what
greatness and awful terror. The statues were first at the eastern, or river, gate of
the fort of Agra, whence they were removed by Shah Jehan to adorn his new
favourite capital. But, in the eyes of the Puritanic Aurungzebe, they savoured of
idolatry, and were caused to change place for a less conspicuous position. They
are now being put up at the gateway of the new Delhi Gardens.
The Jumna did not flow then immediately below the palace. Between the two
there intervened formerly an extensive sandy plain for the parade of the
provincial troops, and the exhibition of elephant-fights, as also for the arts of
astrologers.
Of the famous gardens of Shalimar, nothing remains now. Their state, towards
the end of the last century, is thus described by Franklin:-- The gardens of Shall-
mar, made by the Emperor Shah Jehan, were begun in the fourth year of his reign,
and finished in the thirteenth, on which occasion the emperor gave a grand
festival to his court. These gardens were laid out with admirable taste, and cost
the enormous sum of a million sterling: at present, their appearance does not
give cause to suppose such an immense sum has been laid out upon them; but
great part of the most valuable and costly materials have been carried away. The
entrance to them is through a gateway of brick; and a canal, lined with stone,
having walks on each side with a brick pavement, leads up to the Dewan-
Khannah, or hall of audience, most part of which is now fallen down; from
thence by a noble canal, having a fountain in the centre, you proceed to the
apartments of the Harem, which embrace a large extent of ground. In the front is
a divan, or open hall, with adjoining apartments; the interiors of which are
decorated with a beautiful border of white and gold painting, upon a ground of
the finest chunam. At the upper end of this divan was formerly a marble throne,
raised about three feet from the ground, all. of which is removed. On each side of
this divan, enclosed by high walls, are the apartments of the Harem, some of
which are built of red-stone, and some of the brick faced with fine chunam and
decorated with paintings of flowers of various patterns. All these apartments
have winding passages which communicate with each other and the gardens
adjoining by private doors. The extent of Shalimar does not appear to have been
large; I suppose the gardens altogether are not above a mile in circumference. A
high brick wall runs around the whole, which is destroyed in many parts of it,
and the extremities are flanked with octagon pavilions of red-stone. The gardens
still abound with trees of a very large size, and very old. The site of Shalimar is to
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the north-west of Delhi. Though nothing may remain of this royal villa of the
Moguls, its memory shall never fade so long as the Muse of Tom Moore
continues to delight mankind.
Many a gorgeous building, erected by the Omrahs of the empire in emulation of
the example of their sovereign, then decorated. Delhi. Dara had a suite of palaces
that were scarcely inferior to those of the emperor. The caravanserai of Jehanara
is an instance of the architectural undertakings of that period. Ali Merdan is said
to have excited the greatest admiration at the Mogul court, by the skill and
judgment of his public works, and by the taste and elegance he displayed on all
occasions of show and festivity. The greatest of all his works was the re-opening
of Firoz Shahs canal, thenceforth distinguished by his own name. This canal, as
it traversed the ancient Mogul Parah, nearly three miles in extent, was about
twenty-five feet in depth, and as much in breadth, cut from the solid stone
quarries on each side, from which most of the houses in the neighbourhood were
built. Numerous under-ground channels led off to the various residences of the
nobles, and the divisions of the city, affording to the whole community a
bountiful supply of wholesome water. There were small bridges erected over it
at different places, many of which communicated with the garden-houses of the
nobility. It is doubtful whether the Water Supply Scheme for Calcutta, at the
expense of a whole municipality, will turn out to be as magnificent as that
executed in ancient Delhi from the resources of a single nobleman. None of the
buildings of those times, or the spacious gardens and country-houses of the
nobility in the environs, now exist.
Delhi may not have now the fine buildings of Mogul timesthe Omrahs houses
erected on a mound over-looking a beautiful parterre, laid out with reservoirs,
conservatories, and fountains. But neither has it now so many hovels that gave to
it, says Bernier, the appearance of a knot of villages rather than of a city, and
made it resemble an encampment of regularly-arranged tents. It is owing to these
thatched buildings, chiefly occupied by the court and camp followers, and by
troopers of the cavalry, that Delhi is so frequently subject to fires. Last year about
six thousand were burnt, at different conflagrations, during the prevalence of the
hot winds, which chiefly occur in the two first summer months. The fire was so
rapid and furious, that numbers of camels and horses, which could not be set
free in time, were consumed in the flames, and even many of the poor females,
who had never been out of the seraglio, and who are as timid as the roe when
exposed to the public gaze, and not dissimilar to the ostrich of the desert, whose
head once covered, considers its body concealed. Not a thatch met our sight, as
we surveyed the town from the top of the Jumma Musjeed. The Bezula Pahar
was a cluster of houses. Considerable improvements have taken place since the
British have come into the possession of the city, which wears now a cleanlier
appearance, we believe, than it did at any time before. Not only have people
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multiplied, but knowing that they will have to carry their heads upon their
bodies now for a longer period than under the former princes, they have built
substantial houses to lay those heads in.
The next age for consideration, with a reference to the topography of Delhi, is
that of Aurungzebe, who had no music in his soul, and seems to have been born
only for treasontreason to his father, to the state, and to his god. Like a
crocodile, which is said to have no tongue, he was born without any taste, and
therefore hated music, dancing, singing, buffoonery, poetry, sculpture,
architecture, festivals, and everything that man loves to enjoy. He laid out no
money on mosques, and, to prevent any grand mausoleum being raised to him,
left a will enjoining that the expenses of his funeral were to be defrayed by a sum
of four rupees and a half (about ten shillings), saved from the price of caps which
he had made and sold. If he had been earnest in such tailoring, he would have
been a happier being, and not complained that uneasy lies the head that wears a
crown. The only instance in which he put brick and mortar together, or raised
two stones one upon another is the Motee Musjeed in the Fort.
One architectural monument of his age, however, that we see now, is the Zinat-
Musjeed, more commonly called the Koomari Musjeed, or Maiden Mosque, built by
Zinat-ul-Nissa, the virgin daughter of Aurungzebe, who remained in single
blessedness, like Jehanara. This is on the banks of the Jumna, near Duriagunge,
and is a favourable specimen of the later style of Mogul architecture. It is
constructed of red-stone, with inlayings of white marble. In its front is a spacious
terrace, with a capacious reservoir faced with marble. The prince who built it,
having declined entering into the marriage state, laid out a large sum of money
in the above mosque, and on completing it she built a small sepulchre of white
marble, surrounded by a wall of the same, in the west corner of the terrace. In
this tomb she was buried in the year of the Hegira 1122, corresponding with the
year of Christ 1710. There were formerly lands allotted for the support and
repairs of this place, amounting to a lac of rupees per annum; but they have all
been confiscated during the troubles this city has undergone.
To this age belong also the Roshenara Gardens, where there was a picquet of the
British force in the late Mutiny,as well as the tomb of the Princess Zeebun-ul-
Nissa, another daughter of Aurungzebe, which is northwards of the Cabul Gate.
Next comes the age of Mahomed Shah. In his reign Delhi had many noble
buildings, the remains of which were to be seen up to the beginning of the
present century. Among the largest were those of his Vizier Kummar-ud-deen, of
Sadut Khan, of Sufter Jung, and of Asoph Jah. The palaces of Dara and Ali Merdan
were also then existing in a fair condition,that of Dam being afterwards chosen
for the site of the Delhi college before the Mutiny. All these palaces, states
Franklin, are surrounded with high walls, and take up a considerable space of
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ground. Their entrances are through lofty arched gateways of brick and stone, at
the top of which are the galleries for music; before each is a spacious court-yard
for the elephants, horses, and attendants of the visitors. Each palace has likewise
a mehal, or seraglio, adjoining; which is separated from the Dewan-Khanna by a
partition-wall, and communicates by means of private passages. All of them had
gardens with capacious stone reservoirs and fountains in the centre; an ample
terrace extended round the whole of each particular palace; and within the walls
were houses and apartments for servants and followers of every description,
besides stabling for horses, Feel Khannas, and everything belonging to a
noblemans suite.
Then were no khuskhus-tatties and punkah-cooled rooms, and each palace was
likewise provided with a handsome set of baths, and a Tuh-Khanna underground.
The baths of Sadut Khan are a set of beautiful rooms, paved and lined with white
marble; they consist of five distinct apartments, into which light is admitted by
glazed windows from the top of the domes. Sufter Jungs Tuh-Khanna consists of a
set of apartments built in a light delicate manner; one long room, in which is a
marble reservoir the whole length, and a small room raised and balustraded on
each side, both faced throughout with white marble.
The Koodseah Bagh, to the north-east of the city, outside the walls, and a name of
frequent occurrence in the annals of the Sepoy Rebellion, is the garden built by
Koodseah Begum, mother to Mahomed Shah. She was a woman of talents, had
helped to form the character of her son, carefully tutored him to avoid all
opposition to the Seiad brothers, and exercised a great control over the
administration of the state.
The Tez Hazari Baug, in the neighbourhood of the Cabul Gate, is a garden in
which is the tomb of Mulka Zemani, wife of the Emperor Mahomed Shah. A
marble tablet, placed at the bead of the grave, is engraved with some Persian
couplets, informing us of the date of her death, in Hegira 1203, or A.D. 1791.
It was in the reign of Mahomed Shah, that Delhi once again met with one of
those calamities which, like the outburst of an epidemic, seems periodic to her
destiny. From the conquest of the Moguls to the period under consideration, her
repose had been uninterrupted by any disturbance from abroad. Under Shah
Jehan she regenerated and grew to an opulence and grandeur that, she had never
known. But her greatness was not the legitimate and permanent effect of a wise
and politic government, combining stability with progress, and energy with
majesty. Like everything else that falls into the hands of the Mahomedan, she
flourished to be a nine days wonder, and then, lapsing into decay, was involved
in irretrievable ruin. Her last days under the Moguls were like the last days of
Aurungzebe, who says:-- Old age has arrived, weakness subdues me, and
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strength has forsaken all my limbs. It was this state of imbecility that tempted
Nadir Shah to undertake the invasion of India, and hurl the Great Mogul from
his throne. He is said, though not on very credible authority, to have been invited
to India by Asoph Jah and Sadut Khan, and the loss of the battle of Kurnaul was
concerted between those chiefs. Nadir Shah rewarded their treachery by spitting
on their beards, and ordering them to be driven from his court. The two nobles,
thus disgraced, agreed to end their shame by a voluntary death; but as they were
rivals, and each suspected the sincerity of the other, they sent spies to discover
whether the resolution was carried into effect. Asoph Jah, the more crafty of the
two, took an innocent draught, and soon after pretended to fall down dead; on
which Sadut, deceived by the artifice, swallowed real poison, and forthwith
expired.
The sole object of Nadirs invasion was plunder, and not the possession of
territory. He had agreed to quit India, after his victory, on receipt of two crores of
rupees. Marching from the battle-field to Delhi, he took up his residence in the
royal palace, and seems to have premeditated no excess or outrage against the
inhabitants. The first spark that blew his gunpowder disposition was lit by the
Delhians themselves. In the course of the second day of his arrival there arose a
whisper of his death, which, growing into a confounded hubbub, speedily
communicated itself from the Delhi Gate to the Lahore Gate, and spread into
every street and alley of the capital. Forth issued now thousands of men
brandishing arms and bellowing curses, who had been in a sullen impatience at
the intrusion of the foreigners. The people at the Chandney Chowk first rose
upon the enemy, and their example was followed in other parts of the city. Nadir
at first tried by all gentle means in his power to suppress the tumult. But instead
of subsiding, it increased, and filled the capital throughout the night with
confusion and bloodshed. To disabuse the mind of the public of the false report
of his death, he took care, early next morning, to come out on horseback from the
palace. The first objects that met his eyes in the streets were the dead bodies of
his soldiers. The populace had gone too far to recede, and, instead of being
seized upon with fear at his appearance, assailed him with stones, arrows, and
fire-arms from every house. One of his officers fell down dead at his side, by a
shot which had been aimed at himself. This roused the hell of his passions, and
he gave the orders for a general massacre of the Indians. Twenty thousand men
were set upon the act of butchery. It raged from sunrise to mid-day. In every
street or avenue in which a murdered Persian was found, were the inhabitants
slaughtered without any distinction of age or sex. The city was set on fire in
several places, and involved in one scene of destruction, blood, and terror. The
number of the slain is estimated at a hundred thousand.
Roshun-a-Dowlah, not far from the palace, and situated at the entrance of the
Chandney Chowk, is memorable to the Delhians for being the place where sat
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Nadir Shah, in gloomy silence, during the period of the massacre. The king of
Persia sat there, and none but slaves durst come near him, for his countenance
was dark and terrible. At length, the unfortunate emperor, attended by a number
of his chief Omrahs, ventured to approach him with downcast eyes. The Omrahs
who preceded Mahomed bowed down their foreheads to the ground. Nadir Shah
sternly asked them what they wanted, they cried out with one voice, Spare the
city. Mahomed said not a word, but tears flowed fast from his eyes; the tyrant,
for once touched with pity, sheathed his sword, and said, For the sake of the
prince Mahomed, I forgive. He then ordered to stop the massacre; and, to the
infinite credit of his discipline, it was immediately stopped. The mosque of
Roshun-a-Dowla is of small size, built of red-stone and surmounted by three gilt
domes. The date of the building is 1721. Near it, the Dureeba-Gate is called the
Khoonie Durreaza.
Next to the satisfaction of anger comes the satisfaction of avaricethis is as
much a law of nature as of human codification. The wrath of Nadir was cooled
by the blood of a hundred thousand men. His avarice was next to be satisfied by
the hoarded wealth of generations. First of all, the screw was applied to
Mahomed Shah. Though Shah Jehan had left behind him a cash-balance of six to
twenty-two crores of rupeesor about the sum that appears in the balance-sheet
of the present governmentthere were now no more in the imperial treasury
than three crores and a half, which were seized first of all. Then, there were in
gold and silver plates, in valuable furnitures, in kinkob robes, and other rich stuffs
another crore and a half. The Mogul emperors, since the accession of their
dynasty, had been indefatigable in the collection of diamonds and other jewels,
the store of which had continually increased, till, at the time of Nadirs invasion,
they amounted to the value of fifteen crores, and were a very portable plunder
for an invader to carry away. The Peacock Throne could not but have been a rich
temptation for a man who had originally been the son of a shepherd,though in
discussing its value, it was not estimated at more than a crore of rupees. In that
throne was the Koh-i-noorthe immemorial heirloom of Indian sovereignty
from the days of the Pandoos. Col. Sleeman would have it that this great
diamond was first found in Golconda by Meer Jumla, and presented by him to
Shah Jehan, as a nuzzer for a passport to his aggrandizement. But Baber states
that on his capture of the palace of Ibrahim Lodi at Agra, he found one famous
diamond, which had been acquired by Sultan Allah-ud-deen. It is so valuable,
that a judge of diamonds valued it at half the daily expense of the world. Most
probably this gem was no other than the famous Koh-i-noor, which is said to be
an inch and a half in length, and an inch in width. Being carried off by Nadir
Shah, it was afterwards seized in the plunder of that monarchs tents, by Ahmed
Shah, from whom it descended to his son, Shah Shooja. This prince, having had
occasion to place himself in the hands of Runjeet Sing, had been first subjected to
starvation, then put upon half rations, till at last, wearied out by importunity and
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severity, he had to surrender the coveted diamond. Ultimately, it has found its
way to England, and now glitters upon the crown of the Queen of our empire
the first of jewels adorning the person of the first of sovereigns in the world.
Nadir had not been yet content by stripping Mahomed Shah almost naked of his
robes, and making him eat out of brazen or earthen dishes, but would compel
him to walk on foot by seizing on his elephants, horses, camels, and equipages.
From stone-jewels, he went up to demand the jewel of a princess of the house of
Timoor, for his son. He next applied the rack to the great nobles for the delivery
of their effects, and sent a man to Oude for the two crores promised by Sadut
Khan Next came the turn of the inferior officers, bankers, and rich citizens, to
give up their wealth. Guards were stationed, and none could leave the city by
one of its ten gates. No species of cruelty was left unemployed to extort the
contributions. Men of consequence were beaten to draw forth confessions. Great
numbers died of ill-usage, and many laid violent hands upon themselves, to
avoid the disgrace and torture. Sleep and rest forsook the city. In every chamber
and house was heard the cry of affliction. It was, before, a general massacre; but,
now, the murder of individuals. Greater than the physical calamities was the
demoralization of the people. The inhabitants of Delhi, at least the debauched,
who were by far the most numerous part, regretted the departure of the Persians;
and to this day the excesses of their soldiery are topics of humour in the looser
conversation of all ranks, and form the comic parts of the drolls or players. The
people of Hindoostan at this time regarded only personal safety and personal
gratification. Misery was disregarded by those who escaped it; and man, wholly
centred in himself, felt not for his kind. This selfishness, destructive of public and
private virtue, was universal in Hindoostan at the invasion of Nadir Shah; nor
have the people become more virtuous since, consequently not more happy nor
more independent.
In fifty-eight days that he remained, Nadir demolished, burnt, and ransacked all
Delhi, and undid the doings of several hundred years. The amount of booty that
he is said to have carried off is, by the highest computation, seventy crores, and
by the lowest thirty-two. No doubt, the Calcutta of 1866 is a greater, more
populous, more ornamented and picturesque city, but it has not yet half the
riches possessed by the Delhi of 1738. Half the spoil was in diamonds and jewels.
There is a proverb of the Hindoostanees to the effect, that zumeen and zuhurat
(lands and jewels) are constantly turning on the wheel of fortune, and changing
hands from you to me, from me to Peter Walter.
The Junter Munter, or Observatory, similar to the Maun Mundul at Benares, or
the Tara Kothie at Lucknow, is a building of the days of Mahomed Shah. This is
some two miles from Delhi, on the Kootub road, built, in 1728, by Rajah Jey Sing,
of Jeypore, who had been employed by the emperor to reform the calendar. The
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largest of the buildings is an immense equatorial dial, named by the Rajah the
Samrat Junter, or Prince of Dials: the dimensions of the gnomon being as
follows :
Ft. in.
Length of Hypothenuse 118 5
Length of Base 104 0
Length of Perpendicular 56 76 (?)
This is now much injured. At a short distance, nearly in front of the great dial, is
another building in somewhat better preservation; it is also a sun-dial, or rather
several dials combined in one building. In the centre is a staircase leading to the
top, and its side walls form gnomons to concentric semicircles, having a certain
inclination to the horizon, and they represent meridians removed by a certain
angle from the meridian of the Observatory. The outer walls form gnomons to
graduated quadrants, one to the east and the other to the west. A wall connects
the four gnomons, and on its northern face is described a large quadrilateral
semicircle for taking the altitudes of the celestial bodies. Lying east and west to
the south of the great equatorial dial stand two circular buildings open at the top,
and each having a pillar in the centre; from the bottom of the pillar thirty
horizontal radii, of stone, gradually in. creasing in breadth till they recede from it,
are built to the circular wall; each of these forms a sector of six degrees, and the
corresponding spaces between the radii, being of the same dimensions, make up
the circle of 360 degrees. In the wall at the spaces between the radii and recesses,
on either side of which are square holes at convenient distances to enable the
observer to climb to such a height as was necessary to read off the observation,
each of the recesses had two windows, or rather openings, many of which have
been since built up. On the edge of the recesses are marked the tangents of the
degrees of the suns altitude, as shown by the shadow of the pillar, and
numbered from 1 to 45 degrees. When the sun exceeds that height, the degrees
are marked on the radii, numbered from the pillar in such a manner as to show
the complement of its altitude; these degrees are sub-divided into minutes, but
the opposite spaces in the walls have no sub-division, being merely divided into
six parts of one degree each, the shadow of the sun falling on either of the
divisions shows the suns azimuth; in like manner lunar and stellar altitudes and
azimuths may be observed. These two buildings, being exactly alike in all
respects, were doubtless designed to correct errors by comparing the results of
different observations obtained at the same instant of time.
35
The Junter Munter
is all a stone building. The Hindoo Rajah had been assisted by many eminent
scientific men from Persia, India, and Europe, in putting up the works. But he
died before their completion. The barbarous Jauts, under Jawaher Sing,
plundered and almost destroyed the Observatory, since which the buildings
35
Beresfords Delhi, 1856, from Haroourts New Guide to Delhi.
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have lain in a state of ruin. Instituted under his royal patronage, the Junter
Munter is all that is honourable in connection with Mahomed Shahs namenow
remembered only in the songs and ballads of the nautch-girls of our country.
The Safder Jung.This is the next building for consideration in point of time. It is
about half-way from Delhi to the Kootub, and is a grand mausoleum in imitation
of the Taj. The quadrangular enclosure within which it stands is formed by walks
with elegant pavilions at the corners, and entered by a beautiful gateway facing
the road. The ground covered is more than three hundred yards square, and is
laid out in gardens and walks in the same manner as at the Taj. There are rooms
over the entrance gateway, and fine open apartments on the sides, where visitors
may put up for picnics. In the middle of the quadrangle is a terrace, from which
rises the majestic structure. Three kinds of stones are observed to have been
employedwhite marble, red sandstone, and the fine white and flesh-coloured
sandstone of Roopbas. The white marble is of an inferior quality, and has become
a good deal discoloured by time, so as to give it the appearance, which Bishop
Heber noticed, of potted meat. There are no minarets at the corners of the platform,
for which the building does not appear with any better effect than that of its
original model, though, in the opinion of Heber, it was what he thought to have
been the case, had the Taj been without the minarets.
Just in the centre of the first floor is an elegantly-carved and highly-polished
white marble cenotaph, bearing the date of this small pillar of a tottering state, A.H.
1107, or A. D. 1760. Immediately below this, in the vault underneath, lie, under a
grave of plain earth, the remains of the man over whom the edifice has been
erected. The place was damp, dirty, and noisome, where we feared to catch the
malaria, and saw the grave, from a distance, covered with a cloth, and strewed
with some flowers. Sufder Jung had been appointed by Ahmed Shah, successor
to Mahomed Shah, to that vizierit, which had been the great object of his father
Sadut Khans ambition. During his absence in Raulcund, his influence at court
had been supplanted by a eunuch named Jawud, who was favoured both by the
emperor and his mother. Sufder Jung, finding that his presence did not restore
his authority, took a course which had become familiar at Delhi: he invited
Jawud to an entertainment, and had him murdered during the banquet. Mightily
in a rage at having his favourite thus cut off by treachery, the impotent monarch
chafed and stormed, but had no other means of revenge than to set his vizier at
loggerheads with the great antagonist of his house. In this consisted the great
kingcraft of those times. The Mogul court then seemed to resemble a vast chess-
board, in which the two principal nobles of the kingdom manoeuvred only to
check-mate each other, and carried on a perpetual cat-and-dog warfare. The first
great political rivals were Saadut Khan and Nizamul-Moolk, who respectively
founded the future houses of the King of Oude and of the Nizam. Family
antipathies are hereditary, like family diseases, and Sufder Jung bore the same
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intense animosity towards Ghazi-ud-deen the elder, and afterwards to his son of
the same name, that existed between their respective fathers. On being set
together to fight over the same prey, their civil wars and street affrays worried
the people of Delhi for many a month,whilst the nonentity of the king, amused
by their warfare, laughed within his sleeves, and alternately threw in his weight
to preserve the equipoise between the two parties, that none might kick the beam.
In the end, Ghazi-ud-deen drove his enemy off the field, and became possessed
of supreme control in the royal household, when he revenged himself upon the
emperor by putting out his eyes.
The tomb of Sufder Jung was erected by his son Shuja-ud-Dowla. It belongs to
the ex-king of Oudh, but so little if anything is spent on repairs that, if some
steps are not soon taken, the building will soon be in the same plight as are the
different ruins round Delhi.
To Sufder Jung has been raised a magnificent tomb; by his rival, Ghazi-ud-
deen Khan, has been left a magnificent Madrissa, or college, near the Ajmere Gate.
It is a building of red-stone, situated at the centre of a spacious quadrangle, with
a stone fountain. At the upper end of the area is a handsome mosque built of red-
stone, inlaid with white marble. The apartments for the students are on the sides
of the square, divided into separate chambers, which are all small, but
commodious. The tomb of Ghazi is in a corner of the square, surrounded by a
shrine of white marble, pierced with lattice-work. The college is now shut up,
and without inhabitants;well for mankind, that there is no more taught the
religion which inculcates stabbing, cutting of throats, and mowing off heads, as
the most meritorious acts of life. In the beautiful proportions and ornaments of
the Sufder Jung, and in the richly-cut marble screens of the Ghazi-ud-deen
college, are seen the latest specimens of Mogul architecture, showing that the
decline of art is not simultaneous with the decline of power.
From the time of Nadir Shah, the Great Mogul, rifled of everything that he had in
his pockets, seemed to lay weltering in blood from the wound of a deep gash in
his abdomen. In vain did he try to be up on his legs. The death of Nadir Shah
having taken place, and Ahmed Shah Doorani having seated himself on the
throne of Candahar, the march of the latter prince to Punjaub created an alarm in
the Mogul court of the wolf! the wolf!similar to that in the story of the shepherd
boy. In 1756, he came down and gave another deep stab to the prostrate Mogul
repeating nearly all the horrors of Nadir Shahs invasion, and playing over again
in Delhi the same scenes of rapine, violence, and murder. Scarcely had this
wound ceased to bleed, before another was inflicted that nearly made him give
up the ghost, and brought forward the most momentous consequences. Ever
since the day of the battle of Caggar, where fell the last great heroes of India,
thick as the autumnal leaves that strew the brooks in Valhambrosa, the country
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had become subject to the yoke of a ruthless conqueror. But, in the nooks and
corners of its wide domains survived and remained in power the scattered
wrecks of its sons, who made every exertion for the maintenance of their
countrys honour, religion, and independence. The noble Rajpoot held his
position as heir to the energy and enterprise of his ancestors. He withstood every
outrage that barbarity could inflict, or human nature sustain, from a foe whose
religion commanded annihilation; and bent to the earth, rose buoyant from the
pressure, and made calamity a whetstone to courage. By his perseverance and
valour he wore out entire dynasties of foes, alternately yielding to his fate, or
restricting the circle of conquest. Nursed in the forest and cradled upon the rock,
there grew to him, in the course of time, a brother-in-arms to uphold the Hindoo
cause. That brother bore the name of Mahratta. The Jaut also was a Hindoo, and
had extended his power almost to the south gateway of Delhi. At the time under
consideration the Mahratta power was at its zenith. The man who wielded that
power entertained the most ambitious project of having the crown of the
Chaeraverta, or universal potentate, to encircle the brow of a Hindoo, and of
hoisting the Hindoo flag to wave once more over ancient Indraprastha. To carry
these objects into execution, the grandest army on record was formed and
despatched, under Sedasheo Bhao, to take possession of Delhi. It was held by a
small garrison of Dooranis and their partisans. The great extent of the city walls
enabled a party of Mahrattas to climb up a neglected bastion, and the citadel
yielded to the artillery after attempting a short defence. The Bhao made an
injudicious as well as ungenerous use of this conquest. He defaced the palaces,
tombs, and shrines, for the sake of the rich ornaments which had been spared by
the Persians and Affghans. He tore down the silver ceiling of the hall of audience,
and seized on the throne (no longer so precious as of old) and on all other royal
ornaments. He even proposed to proclaim Wiswas Rao emperor of India, and
was only prevailed on to postpone the measure until he should have driven the
Dooranis across the Indus. These audacities, perpetrated in the hall where, about
a hundred years ago, Sevagee had to approach the royal presence with nine
times nine obeisances, and been received with a haughty coldness, furnished
ample cause to rally the dejected followers of the Koran round one common
standard, and form a coalition for the cause of Mahomedan existence in India.
The two races played at high stakes, and looked on with intense anxiety to the
results of the crisis. Had not overweening pride blinded the judgment of the
Hindoo generalissimo, the Mahomedaus would long ago have numbered their
days in India, and quitted its plains for those of their native Iran and Turan.
Thus had the finishing stroke, aimed to cut of the head of the Great Mogul, been
parried for the time, only to make him drag on his life under an unbroken series
of calamity. Like a bad shilling, he passed on from hand to handof Afrasiab
Khan, of Scindia, of Gholam Kadir, of Perrontill at last the course of events
placed him under the protection of the English. Never had the days of his life
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been so much embittered by misfortune, as when in the hands of Gholam Kadir.
That Rohilla chief had obtained possession of Delhi, and with it of the person of
the emperor. Filling the palace with his own guards, he committed the most
dreadful excesses. It was he who stripped many of the rooms of their marble
ornaments and pavements, and even picked out the stones from the borders of
many of the floorings. The apartments of the women, which appear to be
invested with a sacredness even in the eyes of the most abandoned, were turned
into the scenes of the darkest crimes. It is credibly told that he flogged the ladies
of the zenana, and handed them over to the tender mercies of his rabble crew.
Certain it is that while himself lolling on the royal throne, he insolently ordered
the aged emperor to be brought before him, and demanded from him his
treasures. On Shah Alum bitterly declaring his state of utter destitution, be
savagely swore be would put his eyes out if the hidden hoards were not
produced, and, leaping from his seat, he hurled the emperor to the ground,
planted his knee upon his chest, and struck out one of his victims eyes, ordering
the other one to be put out also. The arms of Scindia rescued the unhappy
monarch from the power of Gholam Nadir, and this miscreant met with a
punishment even more than commensurate with his crimes. Being hard pressed
by the Mahrattas, he made his escape, under cover of a dark night, from a sally-
port at the eastern end of the fort of Selimghur. The Jumna flowed immediately
beneath the bastion, and the ruffian, stuffing his saddle with the jewels
plundered from the family of the emperor, crossed over with all his retinue,
taking his flight towards Meerut. But the doomsman was on his track; his
attendants soon left him, and his horse stumbling threw him so violently that he
lay half stunned till found by a peasant, who recognized the prostrate ruffian as
the man who had once before wronged him He was seized and carried to the
Mahratta generals camp, and, loaded with manacles, carried at the head of the
army (in a cage), mid the curses, insults, and indignities of the captors. His eyes
were torn from their sockets, and his nose, ears, hands, and feet were gradually
cut offand in this deplorable condition he was sent to Delhi. But he never
reached that scene of his atrocities, death putting an end to his sufferings on the
way.
Passing from the hands of Gholam Kadir into those of Scindia, the emperor was
reinstated with every formal ceremony, but was actually held in custody, under a
pension of 50,000 Rs. a year, in charge of Perron. The French general was a man
of humanity, and treated the old monarch, the princes, and princesses, with a
consideration they had not met with for many years.
Our account has now arrived at the period when the Great Mogul is to play the
fifth act in his drama. The reader has already looked on his picture with Hype
rations curls and the front of Jove, decked in all imaginable wealth and
splendour. Let him now look on the picture, when he was in the last days of his
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fall and imbecility, sans power, sans respect, and sans the means of living. To give
the first sket.ch from Franklin On the 11th of March, 1793, we were presented to
the King Shah Alum. After entering the palace we were carried to the Dewan-
Khannah, or hall of audience for the nobility, in the middle of which was a
throne raised about a foot and a half from the ground. In the centre of this
elevation was placed a chair of crimson velvet, bound with gold clasps, and over
the whole was thrown an embroidered covering of gold and silver thread; a
handsome samionah, supported by four pillars incrusted with silver, was placed
over the chair of state. The king at this time was in the Tusbear Khannah, an
apartment in which he generally sits. On passing a screen of Indian connaughts,
we proceeded to the front of the Tusbear Khannah, and being arrived in the
presence of the king, each of us made three obeisances in turn, by throwing
down the right hand pretty low, and afterwards raising it to the forehead; we
then went up to the Musnud on which his Majesty was sitting, and presented our
nuzzers on white handkerchiefs, each of our names being announced at the time
we offered them: the king received the whole, and gave the nuzzers to Mirza
Akber Shah, and two other princes who sat on his left hand. We then went back,
with our faces towards the presence, made the same obeisance as before, and
returned again to the musnud. After a slight conversation, we were directed to
go without the enclosure, and put on the Khelauts which his Majesty ordered for
us; they consisted of light India dresses; a turban, jammah, and kummerbund, all
cotton, with small gold sprigs. On being clothed in these dresses, we again
returned to the Tusbear Khannah, and after a few minutes stay, previous to
which Capt. Reynolds received a sword from the king, we had our dismission;
and some servants were ordered to attend us in viewing the palace. The present
king, Shah Alum, is seventy two years of age; of a tall commanding stature, and
dark complexion ; his deportment was dignified, and not at all diminished by his
want of sight, though he has suffered that cruel misfortune above five years. The
marks of age are very strongly discernible in his countenance: his beard is short
and white. His Majesty appeared to be in good spirits; his dress on this occasion
was a rich kinkhob, and he was supported by pillows of the same materials. This
was during the days of his dependency upon Scindia and Perron. The gold
samianah, the silver pillars, the kinkhob dress, and, to boot, the kinkhob pillows,
do not speak of the misery and starvation that necessitated the emperor, as
Bishop Heber states, to pick out the inlaid ornaments of the palace, and sell them
to procure bread for himself and his children.
The next sketch is ten years later. It was the 16th of September, 1803, the great
day that was to introduce a change into the destiny of India by the virtual
transference of its sovereignty into the hands of the English. On that day, Lord
Lake had an audience to take over the Great Mogul under British protection. His
Majesty was graciously pleased to despatch his eldest son to greet and escort the
victorious commander to his royal presence. The prince did not reach the British
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camp until three in the afternoon. To receive his Royal Highness, to remount him
on his elephant, and to form the cavalcade, took another hour and a half. The
distance from the camp to the palace was five miles. The whole city had turned
out to witness the novelty of the procession, and it was with difficulty that the
cavalcade could make its way through the crowds to the palace. Near sunset, the
English commander arrived at the imperial abode. The court of that abode was
thronged with people. Thither, perhaps, had the oldest inhabitant, of common
phraseology, been attracted to compare how different was the triumphant entry
now from the approach of that humble embassy, which in his young days he had
witnessed to arrive there with costly presents for Feroksere. To receive the
English general, the heir of Timoor was seated in the hall of the celebrated
Dewanni-Khas. In that hall his predecessors, clothed in the most gorgeous
productions of the loom had sate upon thrones formed of gold, and made radiant
by a dazzling profusion of the most costly jewels. Around them had stood
hundreds of obsequious guards and dependants, waiting in mute and watchful
attention the expression of the sovereigns will, and ready to give it effect as soon
as uttered; while vassals from distant countries, or their representatives,
tendered respectful homage to the lord of the faithful throughout India, and
wooed his favour by presents worthy of his rank. Far different was the scene
which met the eye of the British general and his attendants. They beheld the
unfortunate descendant of a long line of illustrious princes seated under a small
tattered canopy, the remnant of his former state, his person emaciated by
indigence and infirmities, and his countenance disfigured with the loss of his
eyes. Eighty-three years of sorrow and suffering had passed over his head, and
poor, dependent, aged, infirm, and sightless, the head of the empire illustrated in
his person the widespread ruin which had overwhelmed the empire itself.
Strangers from a distant country were come to put an end to his miseries,and
though he was transferred as a state-prisoner from one custody to another, he
had no more to suffer from any barbarous usage or want, but received a
considerable sum for the support of his royal household.
Let us next give the portrait drawn by Bishop Heber: The 31st of December,
1824, was fixed for my presentation to the emperor, which was appointed for
half-past eight in the morning. I went, accompanied by Mr. Elliot and two others,
with nearly the same formalities as at Lucknow, except that we were on
elephants instead of in palanquins. We were received with presented arms by the
troops of the palace drawn up within the barbican, and, dismounting at a
courtyard, proceeded on foot, till we passed a richly-carved, but ruinous and
dirty, gateway, where our guides, withdrawing a canvas screen, called out, in a
sort of harsh chant, Lo, the ornament of the world! Lo, the asylum of the nations!
King of kings! The Emperor Acber Shah! Just, fortunate, and victorious. We saw
a very handsome and striking court, with low, but richly-ornamented buildings.
Opposite to us was a beautiful open pavilion of white marble, richly carved,
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flanked by rosebushes and fountains, and some tapestry and striped curtains
hanging in festoons about it, within which was a crowd of people, and the poor
old descendant of Tamerlane seated in the midst of them. Mr. Elliot here bowed
three times very low, in which I followed his example. This ceremony was
repeated twice as we advanced up the steps of the pavilion, the heralds each time
repeating the same expressions about their masters greatness. We then stood on
the right-hand side of the throne, which is a sort of marble bedstead richly
ornamented with gilding, and raised on two or three steps. Mr. Elliot then
stepped forward, and, with joined hands, in the usual Eastern way, announced in
a low voice, to the emperor, who I was. I then advanced, bowed three times
again, and offered a nuzzer of fifty-one gold mohurs in an embroidered purse,
laid on my handkerchief. This was received and laid on one side, and I remained
standing for a few minutes, while the usual court questions about my health, my
travels, &c., were asked. I had thus an opportunity of seeing the old gentleman
more plainly. He has a pale, thin, but handsome face, with an aquiline nose, and
a long white beard. His complexion is little, if at all, darker than that of an
European. His hands are very fair and delicate, and he had some valuable-
looking rings on them. His hands and face were all I saw of him, for the morning
being cold, he was so wrapped up in shawls that he reminded me extremely of
the Druids head on a Welsh halfpenny. I then stepped back to my former place,
and returned again with five more mohurs to make my offering to the heir-
apparent who stood at his fathers left-hand, the right being occupied by the
Resident.
The emperor then beckoned to me to come forwards, and Mr. Elliott told me to
take off my hat, which had till now remained on my head, on which the emperor
tied a flimsy turban of brocade round my head with his own hands, for which,
however, I paid four gold mohurs more. I then retired to receive the Khelats
(honorary dresses) which the bounty of the Asylum of the World had provided
for me. I was accordingly taken into a small private room adjoining the zenanah,
where I found a handsome flowered caftan edged with fur, and a pair of
common-looking shawls, which my servants put on instead of my gown, my
cossack remaining as before. In this strange dress I had to walk back again,
having my name announced by the criers Bahadur, Boozoony, Dowlutmund,
to the presence. I now offered my third present to the emperor, being a copy of
the Arabic Bible and the Hindoostanee Common Prayer, handsomely bound in
blue velvet laced with gold, and wrapped in a piece of brocade. He then
motioned me to stoop, and put a string of pearls round my neck, and two
glittering but not costly ornaments in the front of my turban, for which I offered
again five gold mohurs. It was, lastly, announced that a horse was waiting for
my acceptance, at which fresh instance of imperial munificence the heralds again
made a proclamation of largess, and I again paid five gold mohurs. It ended by
my taking my leave with three times three salams making up, I think, the sum of
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about three-score. It must not be supposed that this interchange of civilities was
very expensive either to his Majesty or me. All the presents which he gave, the
horse included, though really the handsomest which had been seen at the court
of Delhi for many years, and though the old gentleman intended to be extremely
civil, were not worth much more than 300 sicca rupees, so that he and his family
gained at least 800 sicca rupees by the mornings work, besides what he received
from my two companions, which was all clear gain, since the khelats which they
got in return were only fit for May-day, and made up, I fancy, from the cast-off
finery of the Begum. On the other hand, since the Company have wisely ordered
that all the presents given by Native princes to Europeans should be disposed of
on the Government account, they have liberally, at the same time, taken on
themselves the expense of paying the usual money nuzzers made by public men
on these occasions. In consequence none of my offerings were at my own charge,
except the professional and private one of the two books, with which, as they
were unexpected, the emperor, as I was told, was very much pleased. I had, of
course, several buckshishes to give afterwards to his servants, but these fell
considerably short of my expenses at Lucknow. To return to the hall of audience,
it was entirely lined with white marble, inlaid with flowers and leaves of green
serpentine, lapis lazuli, and blue and red porphyry; the flowers were of the best
Italian style of workmanship, and evidently the labour of an artist of that country.
All, however, was dirty, desolate, and forlorn. Half the flowers and leaves had
been picked out or otherwise defaced, and the doors and windows were in a
state of dilapidation, while a quantity of old furniture was piled in one corner,
and a torn hanging of faded tapestry hung over an archway which led to the
interior apartments. Such, M.r Elliot said, is the general style in which this
palace is kept up and furnished. It is not absolute poverty which produces this,
but these people have no idea of cleaning or mending anything. For my own
part I thought of the famous Persian line
The spider hangs her tapestry in the palace of the Caesers,
And felt a melancholy interest in comparing the present state of this poor family
with what it was 200 years ago, when Bernier visited Delhi, or as we read its
palace described in the tale of Madame de Genlis.
Akber Shah has the appearance of a man of seventy-four or seventy-five; he is,
however, not much turned of sixty-three, but in this country that is a great age.
He is said to be a very good-tempered, mild old man, of moderate talents, but
polished and pleasing manners. His favourite wife, the Begum, is a low-born,
low-bred, and violent woman, who rules him completely, lays hold on all his
money, and has often influenced him to very unwise conduct towards his
children and the British Government. She hates her eldest son, who is, however,
a respectable man, of more talents than native princes usually show and, happily
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for himself, has a predilection for those literary pursuits which are almost the
only laudable or innocent objects of ambition in his power. He is fond of poetry,
and is himself a very tolerable Persian poet. He has taken some pains in the
education of his children, and, what in this country is very unusual, even of his
daughters. He too, however, though not more than thirty-five, is prematurely old,
arising partly from the early excesses into which the wretched followers of an
Eastern court usually plunge persons in his situation, and partly from his own
subsequent indulgence in strong liquors. His face is bloated and pimpled, his
eyes weak, and his hand tremulous. Yet, for an Eastern prince, as I have already
observed, his character is good, and his abilities considered as above the
common run.
From the royalty of the Great Mogul we turn to the royalty of his Begum for a
glimpse into those scenes which are enacted within the four walls of the Zenana,
a ground tabooed to all male feet. The account, the faithfulness of which will
be recognized by every reader, is by a lady, who had gone to divert herself by
sketching in the palace. She had occasion to ask for a chair, little knowing that
the whole court would be thrown into commotion by her undiplomatic request.
However, they sent a message to the king on the subject, who said I might have a
stool, but not a chair, and accordingly sent me a very rude little bench. Some of
his Majestys guard marched in; most of them were boys, almost children. When
I had finished, I desired some of the numerous bystanders to look into the
camera, with which they were greatly delighted; and as we were going, a
message came from the king asking me to show it to him. We accordingly turned
back, and three or four black slaves came to conduct me to the harem.
They introduced me to the chief lady, Zinat Mahl Begum, or Ornament of the
Palace, who struck me as old and ugly, and then led me to the kings apartment,
where the old monarch was smoking his hooka. He is slender and feeble-looking,
but with a simple kindly face, though he took no notice of me when I came in,
which 1 suppose is etiquette. His bedstead, with four silver posts, was by him,
and a crowd of women about him; one old woman was rubbing his feet. No one
was handsomely dressed. The old king wore a gold skull-cap and a cotton
chapkan. I sat down for a moment, and then told them that the camera must be
put up out-of-doors. They led me into the balcony, but that would not do; so they
took me to a terrace, where I put it up. The old king seemed pleased, and asked
me to draw the queen, to which I willingly agreed. She was so long in adorning
herself that it was dark soon after I began. They brought out boxes full of jewels;
she put on about five pair of earrings, besides necklaces, a nose-ring with a string
of pearls connecting it with the ear, rings for the fingers, besides ornaments for
the head. Then she retired to change her dress, some of the women holding up
the cotton rezai (wadded quilt) in which her Majesty had been wrapped, as a
screen. She came back, dressed in red muslin spotted with gold, and sat down,
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hooka in hand, with two female servants with peacock fans, or rather clubs,
behind her. When I looked closer at her, I saw that she could not be old, but she
is very fat, with large though unmeaning eyes; and a sweet mouth. Her hair, like
that of all the other women, of whom there must have been about fifty present,
was a la Chinoise. Her little son, Mirza Jewan Bukt, came and sat beside her; but
as soon as I offered to sketch him, he was hurried away to change his dress, and
returned clad in green velvet and gold, with a Sirpatch, or aigrette of jewels, in
his gold cap.
The noise and chattering of the assembled crowd was deafening; but the chief
eunuch occasionally brought them to order, and made them sit down. Her
Majesty laughed very loud, as loud as she could, with her mouth wide open, at
some jest which passed. Not one of all these women was doing anything, or
looked as if they ever did do anything, except three, who were cracking nutmegs.
What a life! The old king came in, and a man with a black beard, whom I took for
one of his sons, and who remained standing ; but the women sat and jested freely
with his Majesty. He approved of the sketches. The little prince is he whom the
king wishes to have declared heir-apparent, though he is the youngest of his ten
or twelve sons. He has no less than thirty daughters. Such was the Zenana of old
Bahadoor Shah, a few years before the Mutiny. Truly has it been observed, that
the poetry and romance of the harem exist only in warm imaginations, and in
that propensity of our nature which lends to the unknown a beauty and a charm,
which the prosaic hand of reality rudely tears away. Berniers description of the
attendants on Roshenari Begum, or Moores sketch of the fair young slave that
sat fanning Lana Rookh with feathers of the Argus pheasants wing, are all very
good to impose on the reader. But in the days of Aurungzebe the Zenana was no
less the scene of the ill-disguised amours of Roshenari Begum, than in the days of
Bahadoor Shah it was a collection of noisy, dirty, coarse-minded women, who
spent their days in dressing, cracking jokes and nuts, intriguing and quarrelling,
and breathing without change in a soulless atmospherewith no scope or
pursuit for a healthy exercise of their minds.
From Hebers as well as from Mrs. Mackenzies account, it appears that the Great
Mogul was wonderfully tenacious of life, that his several wounds, inflicted by
Nadir, Ahmed Shah, Sudasheo Bhao, and Scindia, had all healed up, and that he
had recovered, to enjoy life again like a well-to-do man, who, freed from Adams
curse of making his bread by the sweat of his brow, and saved from all trouble of
defending his empire, or attending to his subjects, sat like a political Juggernauth,
receiving only homage and pension and nuzzers, who had no other duty in this
nether world than to fulfil the commandment for multiplication, whose begum
was careful only of making a purse and mustering jewels, and whose brood of
children spent their days only in fiddling, guitaring, and singing verses,
intervened now and then by a glass of liquor. He had to himself all these
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comforts and benefits, while Company Jehan went through all the fag of
governing, cheered up by Lady India, who, on parting with the Hindoo and
Mussulman, chose to give her hand to that adventurous young foreigner. Thus is
the Great Mogul described in his sinecurism Bahadur Shah is really a king; net
merely by consent of the Honourable Company, but actually created such by
their peculiar letters patent. Lord Lake found the grandfather of the present
sovereign an emperor, in rags, powerless, eyeless, and wanting the means of
sustaining existence. The firmans of the Padishah made the general an. Indian
noble ; the sword of the latter made the descendant of Tamerlane a Companys
king, the least dignified, but the most secure, of Eastern dominations. In public
and private, Bahadur Shah receives the signs of homage which are considered to
belong to his preeminent station. The representative of the Governor-General,
when admitted to the honour of an audience, addresses him with folded bands
in the attitude of supplication. He never receives letters, only petitions, and
confers an exalted favour on the Government of British India by accepting a
monthly present of 80,000 rupees. In return he tacitly sanctions all our acts;
withdraws his royal approbation from each and all our native enemies and fires
salutes upon every occasion of a victory achieved by our troops. Though he may
not have been served with all the zeal inspired by that line of Sadi, Should the
prince at noonday say, It is night, declare that you behold the moon and stars;
he was suffered, however, to believe that he was the lord of the world, master of
the universe, and of the Honourable East India Company, King of India and of
the infidels, the superior of the Governor-General, and proprietor of the soil from
sea to sea.
Meanwhile, Company Jehan prospered and flourished so as to become the great
suzerain of the landhis bride being always the Luchmee to her man.
36
He began
to feel the Great Mogul a bore, and to regard him as a puppet. Sir Charles
Metcalfe while a resident was the first to intrench on the little outward marks of
attention and deference, which soothed the poor old man in his inevitable
dependence. Lord Amherst would not deign to visit him with bare feet and a
bowed head according to the Delhi court etiquette, but on terms of an
honourable equality. He forced the ling, then on the throne, to receive him as an
equal and seat him in a state-chair on the right hand of his Majesty. After an
interchange of compliments, and the usual form of presenting attar had been
gone through, Lord Amherst took leave, and was conducted by the emperor to
the door of the hall of audience. On a subsequent day the emperor returned the
visit with similar ceremonies bursting into tears by the shock his feelings
received, and repenting of his condescension ever afterwards. Lord William Ben
thick, when at Delhi, would not press upon the king, especially as his economy
36
The word luck is evidently derived from the Sanscrit Luchmee. The Hindoo phrase she is the Luchmee
to her man, signifies that she is the source of good luck to her husband.
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would not permit him to sanction the expense of the presents necessary for an
interview with his Majesty; but he curtailed the magnificence of the Resident and
reduced his powers, lowering the court of Delhi thereby. Lord Ellenborough not
only followed in the track of his predecessors, but went a step further by
appearing himself with all the grandeur of a protecting Power, and the dignity of
an Imperial conquering State. He chose to act the part of the Great Mogul in all
respects, excepting that of his harem. All his friends and brothers, the princes of
India, were commanded to meet him at Delhi. The splendour of that field of cloth
of gold no one will ever forget who saw it. The myriads of tents and pennons, the
thousands of elephants, the assemblage of troops of all the provinces of Western
India, the armour and picturesque dresses of these, and the army of European
artillery, cavalry, and infantry, in attendance upon Lord Ellenborough, formed a
magnificence of spectacle truly grand and Shah-Jehanic. This display was made
out-side the Delhi palace, while inside sat, on a desecrated throne, brooding over
his wrongs, the Mogul himself, his hundreds of sons and relatives, all Sultans,
steeped in poverty with their attendants; inculcating hatred, malice, and all
uncharitableness against the Feringhee usurpers. Lord Ellenborough prohibited
the further presentation of the annual Nuzzer to his Majesty. This nuzzer, symbol
of allegiance, or acknowledgment of suzerainty, had hitherto been regularly
presented by the Resident as the representative of the Company. Lord
Ellenborough would not, however, confiscate it. He does not approve of
confiscation; therefore he ordered the amount to be added to the sum paid
annually for his Majestys Civil List. The king refused to receive it in this manner:
the nuzzer was a very important acknowledgment its money value was nothing.
Thus, one by one, were slights and insults heaped on the head of the Mogul,
while he and his progeny went on multiplying by compound multiplication, till,
at last, his palace, styled the paradise upon earth, became an Epicurus sty, by
being crowded with Sultans and Sultanas, who lay about in scores, like broods of
vermin, without food to eat, or clothes to cover their nakedness, and literally ate
each other up. Here is a picture of his overcrowded court. Outside the walls of
his palace the King of Delhi has no more authority than the meanest of his
servants, but within that enclosure his will is fate, and there are twelve thousand
persons who live subject to it. The universal voice of society ascribes to this
population the habitual practice of crimes, of which the very existence is
unknown in England, except to the few who form the core of the corrupt
civilization of great cities. Its princes live without dignity, and its female
aristocracy contrive to exist without honour. The intellectual qualifications of
both sexes, with one or two exceptions, do not reach even the Mahomedan
standard of meritperhaps the lowest in the scale of modern humanity. But it is
not the condition or the morals of the inhabitants of the royal palace, nor the
maintenance of any exclusive jurisdiction, that form the chief reasons why the
kingdom of Delhi should be abolished. The latter belong to a class of topics with
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which the readers of Malthus and Poor Law Commissioners reports are familiar.
The royal family of Delhi consists of twelve hundred persons, with a sure
prospect of further increase every month, and how is the East India Company to
support all this army of princes and princesses? As yet the hardship has only
fallen upon the monarch, who has been obliged to divide and sub-divide his
income, until there are princes who receive only 25 rupees a month! Let the
honest democrats of London and Manchester try, if they can, to imagine the case
of a kings son, nephew, or cousin, however far removed, living in a state of
royalty on thirteen shillings and sixpence a week, constantly addressed as Shah-
i-Alum, the King of the World, and feeling it necessary for his ranks sake, on
choosing a wife, to settle on her a dowry of five lass of rupees! While this farce of
a monarch is kept up, the Sulateen continues to multiply within the royal
residence, and to live on the royal bounty, their sole occupation being confined to
playing on the sitar, and singing the kings verses. There is no employment for
them in the service of the state, and they are vastly too proud to condescend to
labour, even if qualified to undertake it, which, as matters stand, is entirely out of
the question.
Then came the days of escheats, and annexations, and wars with a vengeance,
under Lord Dalhousie, and the pear became ripe by the death of the heir-
apparent in 1849. The Governor-General took advantage of the opportunity to
abolish the pageant of the Great Mogul, and opening a negotiation, won over the
next heir to accept the terms of abdicating the throne, vacating the palace,
recognizing the English, retiring to the palace at the Kootub with certain titles
and emoluments, and allowing the large family in the palace to be placed under
proper regulations. Hitherto, the wrongs and insults, the prohibition of the king
to go beyond the environs of Delhi, and the refusal of salutes to the princes, had
engendered a hatred that, kept down by fear, festered in the mind without any
vent or expression. But now, alarmed for their very existences, the king and all
the royal family, the begums and eunuchs, began to harbour those treasonable
designs, and to create those disaffections and dissensions, which brought on the
terrible crisis of the Great Rebellion of 1857.
Immediately before the Mutiny the state of the palace is thus described. Within
its walls there was a population of more than 5000 souls, of which no less than
3000 were of the blood-royal and descendants of Timourleng. These latter, of
course, were too proud to do anything which could not be done by their
European brethren, but they seem to have lost all military spirit, and to have
sunk into a state of abject debasement, and of poverty, unredeemed by self-
respect or by usefulness. The king seldom stirred out of late years, or went
beyond the palace walls; but inside their precincts he was subjected to constant
annoyance from his numerous relativesthe Great Mogul Olivers were always
asking for more. It may be imagined how this wicked, lazy, sensual, beggarly
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crowd stormed and raved round the courts, when there came upon them a vision
of plunder, conquest, jaghires, grants, treasures, zenanas,how they yelled for
blood and shouted, Kill! gill They were in a state of such poverty that some of
these royal families were in want of their meals, and their numbers had increased
far beyond the provision made for them.
The following is a picture of the Great Mogul after the Mutiny was over In a
dingy, dark passage, leading from the open court or terrace in which we stood to
a darker room beyond, there sat, crouched on his haunches, a diminutive,
attenuated old man, dressed in an ordinary and rather dirty muslin tunic, his
small lean feet bare, his head covered by a small thin cambric skull-cap. The
moment of our visit was not propitious; certainly it was not calculated to invest
the descendant of Timoor the Tartar with any factitious interest, or to throw a
halo of romance around the infirm creature who was the symbol of extinguished
empire. In fact, the ex-king was sick; with bent body he seemed nearly prostrate
over a brass basin, into which he was retching violently. So for the time we
turned our backs on the doorway, and looked around the small court, which was
not more than thirty feet square. In one corner of this court, stretched on a
charpoy, lay a young man of alight figure and small stature, who sat up at the
sound of our voices, and salamed respectfully. He was dressed in fine white
muslin, and had a gay yellow and blue sash around his waist; his head was bare,
exhibiting the curious tonsure from the forehead to the top of the head, usual
among many classes in the East; his face, oval and well-shaped, was disfigured
by a very coarse mouth and skin, but his eyes were quick and bright, if not very
pleasant in expression. By the side of his charpoy stood four white-tunicked and
turbaned attendants, with folded arms, watching every motion of the young
gentleman with obsequious anxiety. One of them said, He is sick, and the
Commissioner gave direction that he should lie down again, and so, with
another &dam, Jumma Bukhtfor it was that scion of the House of Delhi in
whose presence we stoodthrew himself back with a sigh, and turning his head
towards us, drew up the chudder, or sheet of his bed, to his face, as if to relieve
himself from our presence. At the head of his bed there was a heavy-looking,
thick-set lad, of thirteen or fourteen years of age, who was, we were told, the
latest born of the houseby no means a sweet young prince, and whose claims
to the blood-royal the Commissioner considered more or less doubtful,
considering the age of the king and the character borne by the particular lady
who had presented the monarch with a pledge so late in his life; but I am bound
to add that, at all events, he has his fathers nose, and his lips are like those of
Jumma Bukht.
The qualms of the king at last abated, and we went into the passagenot but
that we might have gone in before at any time, for all he cared. He was still
gasping for breath, and replied by a wave of the hand, and a monosyllable to the
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Commissioner. That dim-wandering-eyed, dreamy old man, with feeble,
hanging nether lip and toothless gums,was he, indeed, one who had conceived
that vast plan of restoring a great empire, who had fomented the most gigantic
mutiny in the history of the world, and who, from the walls of his ancient palace,
had hurled defiance and shot ridicule upon the race that held every throne in
India in the hollow of their palms? He broke silence. Alas! It was to inform us
that he had been very sick, and that he had retched so violently that he had filled
twelve basins. This statement, which was, it must be admitted, distressingly
matter-of-fact and unromantic, could not, I think, have been strictly true, and
probably was in the matter of numeration tinctured by the spirit of Oriental
exaggeration, aided by the poetic imagination of his Majesty. He is a poet
rather erotic and warm in his choice of subject and treatment, but nevertheless,
or may be therefore, the esteemed author of no less than four stout volumes of
meritorious verses; and he is not yet satiated with the muse, for a day or two ago
he composed some neat lines on the wall of his prison by the aid of a burnt stick.
Who could look on him without pity? Yes, for one instant, till the rush of blood
in that pitiless court-yard swept it from the heart. The passage in which he sat
contained nothing that I could see but a charpoy, such as those used by the
poorest Indians. The old man cowered on the floor on his crossed legs, with his
back against a mat which was suspended from doorway to doorway, so as to
form a passage about twelve feet wide by twenty-four in length. Inside the mat
we heard whispering, and some curious eves that glinted through the mat at the
strangers informed us that the king was not quite alone. I tried in vain to let my
imagination find out Timoor in him.
Had it been assisted by diamond, and cloth of gold, and officers of state, music
and cannon, and herald and glittering cavalcade and embroidered elephantry,
perhaps I might have succeeded; but, as it was, I foundI say with regret, but
with honesty and truthI found only Holywell Street. The forehead is very
broad indeed, and comes out sharply over the brows, but it recedes at once into
an ignoble Thersites-like skull; in the eyes were only visible the weakness of
extreme old agethe dim, hazy, filmy light which seems as if it were about to
guide us to the great darkness ; the nose, a noble Judaic aquiline, was deprived of
dignity and power by the loose-lipped, nerveless, quivering, and gaping mouth
filled with a flaccid tongue; but from chin and upper lip there streamed a
venerable, long, wavy, intermingling moustache and beard of white, which again
all but retrieved his aspect. Recalling youth to that decrepit framerestoring its
freshness to that sunken cheekone might see the king glowing with all the
beauty of the warrior David; but, as he sat before us, I was only reminded of the
poorest form of the Israelitish type as exhibited in decay and penurious greed in
its poorest haunts among us. His hands and feet were delicate and fine; his
garments, scanty and foul. And this is the descendant of him who, on the 12th of
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August, 1765, conferred on the East India Company the Dewanee (or lordship) of
the provinces of Bengal, of Behar, and Orissa.
Although the guilt of the king in the encouragement afforded by him to the
mutinous and murderous Sepoys was great and undoubted, there is some reason
to suppose that he was not so much responsible for the atrocious massacre
within the walls of his palace as has been supposed. From the very first he had
little power over the Sepoys and their leadershis age and infirmity forbade all
physical exertion. It is certain that for several days he protected the unfortunate
ladies who fled to the palace, and resisted the clamorous demands for their blood
which were made by the monsters around him; but it is true, too, that he did not
take the step which would have saved their lives. He did not put them into his
Zenana. It is said he was afraid of his own begums, and the women of the
Zenana, who would have resented such a step. At all events he did not do so.
Our countrywomen were murdered in his palace; and we have assumed that he
could have saved their lives. It may be that we are to some extent punishing in
the father the sins of the children.
He seemed but little inclined for conversation ; and when Brigadier Stisted asked
him how it was he had not saved the lives of our women, he made an impatient
gesture with his hand, as if commanding silence, and said, I know nothing of
itI had nothing to say to it. His grandchild, an infant a few months old, was
presented to us, and some one or two women of the Zenana showed themselves
at the end of the passage, while the Commissioner was engaged in conversation
with one of the begums, the latest who remained inside her curtain, and did not
let us see her face.
Here was this begum, a lady of some thirty-five, very aggravating to the ex-Great
Mogul, who was both in pain and anguish, and very anxious to get away from
him. Why, said she, the old (yes, I believe the correlative word in English is)
fool goes on as if he was king; hes no king now. I want to go away from him.
Hes a troublesome, nasty, cross old fellow, and Im quite tired of him
Bowstrings and sacks! Was not this dreadful language? But the ex-Mogul is a
philosopher; he merely asked one of his attendants for a piece of coffee-cake or
chocolate, put a small piece in his mouth, mumbled it, smiled, and pointing with
his thumbs over his shoulder in the direction from which the shrill and angry
accents of queenly wrath were coming, said, with all the shrug and bonhommie of
a withered little French marquis of the old school, Mon Dieu!I meanAllah!
listen to her! And so we left him alone in his misery. He numbers upwards of
eighty-two years; but they are said to be only of lunar months, and that his real
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age is seventy-eight. It is needless to say that he will never, if sent, reach
Caffraria alive.
37
Instead of Caffraria, the ex-Mogul was sent to Rangoon. His exile, with his
begums and children about him, was a far milder punishment than assassination
or the slow operation of the pousta, to which he would have been condemned
under the regime of his own house. In two years he ceased to exist, and was
gathered to his fathers, though not to be buried with them. Far from being
consigned to the tomb of the ancestral deadto some magnificent mausoleum
created by giants, and finished by jewellershis remains were interred just
behind the main-guard where he was confined, beneath a lonely and
unhonoured grave in the moistened soil of Rangoon, and in somewhat close
proximity to the cook-houses of the European soldiers, so that his ghost will be
able to enjoy at least the savoury smell of several luxuries which were forbidden
food to him whilst living.
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day !
So perish all, whose breast neer learnd to glow
For others good, or melt at others woe.
Of the boasted House of Timoor, the only adult members now remaining are the
elderly Zinat Mahl, that old tigress; her cub, Jumma Bukht, that interesting
youth who is believed to have amused himself by shooting English ladies with a
double-barrel; his wife, who has given birth to several children since his arrival
in Rangoon; and his brother Shah Abbas. They should be left to shift for
themselves, and allowed to melt away in the crowd, till they sink into utter
insignificance.
It is well that the Great Mogul is extinct,and it would be well for mankind if
the Grand Turk also were no more. No curse that has afflicted the human race
has ever been so baneful as that which Mahomedan rule has proved itself to
mankind. The Moslem rose as a storm-wave to entomb all the great works of
ancient power and wisdom beneath its deluge, and to plunge the world into a
state of barbarism that has perpetuated despotism, ignorance, and anarchy for
many a long century. He has never been better than a gloomy enthusiast, hating,
spurning, and slaying all who did not believe and call upon the Prophet;
One of that saintly, murderous brood,
To carnage and the Koran given,
Who think through unbelievers blood
37
Russells My Diary in India.
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Lies the directest path to heaven.
His history is made up only of burnings, massacres, and pillagesit is one long
uniform tale of cruelty without remorse, and of offence without prayer or
penance. His government has been that under which life hung by a thread, and
female honour was exposed to the risks of violence. What has been his conduct
towards heirs and competitors for the throne, but a quiet disposal of them by the
bowstring, dagger, or poison? How did he treat his wives and mistresses for
their slips, but with the sack, halter, or living burial? What other has been the
principle of his government than physical force, and plunder and extortion? In
what opinion did he hold his subjects, but as beasts of burden and beasts of prey?
In what light did he view woman but as a pretty toy, soulless as much as his
turban, his pipe, and his amber mouth-piece? The Moslem has left indelible
traces of his presence everywhere in the ruin of countries, and in the slavery of
nations. His great object was to slaughter and destroy, and to make a glory of his
destruction. He was born not for the progress, but the retrogression of
mankindnot for amelioration, bat for the perpetuation of evil. He never sought
to dispel ignorance, and sowed no seeds of improvement to elevate the condition
of mankind. But for the accident which gave Charles Martel the victory over the
Saracens at Tours, Arabic and Persian had been the classical languages, and
Islamism the religion of Europe; and where we have cathedrals and colleges we
might have had mosques and mausoleums, and America and the Cape, the
compass and the press, the steam-engine, the telescope, and the Copernican
system, might have remained undiscovered to the present day. Under the
progress which the world has made now, the Mahomedan has become an
obsoletism,and to tolerate his existence is to tolerate an anomalya diseased
limb endangering the soundness of the whole system. If it were possible to
destroy all Mahomedan institutions, and to eradicate all Mahomedan traditions,
by one vigorous and simultaneous effort, and if all that is Mahomedan in name
or spirit were to become extinct by a combination of circumstances, it would be
well for mankind, and rid the world of its greatest enemy. The Mahomedan sits
as an oppressive incubus upon society, hindering the onward progress of some
three hundred millions of men, and to ignore the evil of his existence is the
highest treason to the cause of humanity
Of the architectural works of the English there are almost none to be seen in
Delhi. It is right that they have not risked their reputation by undertaking any,
for to build anything deserving of their name, they must beat the Kootub or the
Jumma Musjeed. The Church, with its fine dome, may interest the traveller. It is
in the Italian style, and was built, at an expense of 1,20,000 rupees, by Col.
Skinner, a highly-distinguished commander of irregular troops in the East India
Companys service. He lies interred here, after all his wanderings in the days of
border warfare in India. The church was erected, it is said, in consequence of the
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father having made a vow, that if his eon Joseph, who was so dangerously ill as
to be given over by the doctors, should recover, he would found a church as a
thank-offering.
There is also seen in this church a monument raised to the memory of William
Fraser, who was one of the Residents in the Court of Delhi, and killed by the
Nawab Shums-ood-deen, in 1835. To take away his life, the Nawab had
employed a Mahomedan of the name of Kureem Khanknown to be a good
shot, and a good rider, who could fire and reload very quickly while his horse
was in full gallop. On Sunday, the 22nd of March, Mr. Fraser had been to a party
given by a Hindoo Ritjah, from which he was returning home late in the night,
attended by one trooper and two peons on foot. Kureem Khan waited for him on
the road to take advantage of the opportunity. As Mr. Frasers horse was coming
up on the left side, Kureem Khan turned his; and as he passed by, presented his
blunder buss firedand all three balls passed into Mr. Frasers breast. All three
horses reared at the report and flash,and Mr. Fraser fell dead to the ground.
Kureem galloped off, followed a short distance by the trooper, and the two peons
went off and gave information to Major Pew and Cornet Robinson, who resided
near the place. They came in all haste to the spot, and had the body taken to the
deceaseds own house: but no signs of life remained. They reported the murder
to the magistrate, and the city gates were closed, as the assassin had been seen to
enter the city by the trooper.
Kureem Khan and the Nawab were both convicted of the crime, sentenced to
death, and executed at Delhi. The Nawab was executed some time after Bureem,
on Thursday morning, the 3rd of October, 1835, close outside the north or
Cashmere Gate, leading to the cantonments. He prepared himself for the
execution in an extremely rich and beautiful dress of light green, the colour
which martyrs wear; but he was made to exchange this, and he then chose one of
simple white, and was too conscious of his guilt to urge strongly his claim to
wear what dress he liked on such an occasion. The following corps were drawn
up around the gallows, forming three sides of a square; the first regiment of
cavalry, the twentieth, thirty-ninth, and sixty-ninth regiments of native infantry;
Major Pews light field battery, and a strong party of police. On ascending the
scaffold, the Nawab manifested symptoms of disgust at the approach to his
person of the sweeper, who was to put the rope round his neck; but he soon
mastered his feelings, and submitted with a good grace to his fate. Just as he
expired his body made a last turn, and left his face towards the west, or the tomb
of his prophet, which the Mahomedans of Delhi considered a miracle, indicating
that he was a martyrnot as being innocent of the murder, but as being executed
for the murder of an unbeliever! Pilgrimages were for some time made to the
Nawabs tomb; but I believe they have long since ceased with the short gleam of
sympathy that his fate excited. The only people that still recollect him with
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feelings of kindness are the prostitutes and dancing-women of the city of Delhi,
among whom most of his revenues were squandered.
One circumstance attending the execution of the Nawab Shums-ood-deen, seems
worthy of remark. The magistrate, Mr. Frascott, desired his crier to go through
the city the evening before the execution, and proclaim to the people, that those
who might wish to be present at the execution were not to encroach upon the line
of sentries that would be formed to keep clear an allotted space round the
gallows,nor to carry any kind of arms ; but the crier, seemingly retaining in his
recollection only the words arms and sentries, gave out, after his Oyez, Oyez, that
the sentries had orders to use their arms, and shoot any man, woman, or child
that should presume to go outside the wall to look at the execution of the Nawab!
No person, in consequence, ventured out till the execution was over, when they
went to see the Nawab himself converted into smoke; as the general impression
was, that as life should leave it, the body was to be blown off into the air, by a
general discharge of musketry and artillery!
38
The monument in honour of Mr. Fraser cost 10,000 rupees, is made of white
marble in compartments, inlaid with green stones representing the weeping
willow.
Close to the church are seen the remains of what was once the Delhi Government
College, a building with a lofty-pillared verandah. The college had been founded
on the site of Daras palace, where had been held many a soire of poets and
philosophers by that prince. No pupil of the Delhi College has so distinguished a
name as Mohun Lal. He was Moonshee to Sir Alexander Burnes, and had
accompanied that gentleman to Cabool, in the Affghan expedition.
Not far from this is the Magazine, covering several acres of ground. To prevent
its contents falling into the hands of the rebels, the magazine was blown up by
Lieutenant Willoughby on the 11th of May, 1857. That indomitable officer, with a
mind capable of conceiving, and a heart and hand resolute and steady to perform,
has passed away, but his deeds can never die.
Many a time has Delhi been the theatre of war and bloodshed, but never more so
than during the great Sepoy Rebellion. The city was like a loaded mine, which
took fire the instant the mutineers made their appearance at one of the gates
from Meerut. In a moment a murderous fire was opened upon the European and
Christian residents in all quarters, and the butcheries of officers, civilians,
merchants, and missionaries, the violation and massacre of their wives and
daughters, the spoliation and burning down of their houses, the demolition of
38
Sleemans Rambles and Recollections.
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the courts of law, the college, and the printing-offices, and the seizure of the
Ludlow Castle, the Metcalfe House, the arsenal, and the park of artillery,
inaugurated the epoch of the finale of Feringhee rule. The prelude gone through,
the Great Mogul was proclaimed to have once more commenced his independent
reign. For a long time the centre of intrigue and disaffection, the imperial city
now became the great focus and stronghold of rebellion. The red-handed Sepoys
poured in from all parts of the Presidency to this great rendezvous, and the
soldiery within the walls of the city swelled to the number of 60,000 men. Its state
now has been very well depicted in the following short extract:-- The market-
place of Delhi was crowded by a large number of soldiers and inhabitants, some
vociferating, some shouting, and others earnestly conning over a proclamation
which was written in large Persian characters, and pasted on a board stuck up
for the purpose. It was a motley group. There was the fat greasy burgher, the
rotundity of whose paunch sufficiently indicated the fulness of his purse,
anxiously asking his neighbour about the current events of the day, and
trembling for his hoarded riches, which may change hands, as he well knows,
during the terrible time of war. There was the braggadocio Sepoy, his skull-cap
set jauntily on his head, his eyes red with bhang, shouting that the Companys raj
was over, and boasting of the murder of some ten or twelve Feringhees during
the mutiny at Delhi. There also was the fanatic Mussulman running about
frantically and calling on the followers of the Faith to arms, and to annihilate the
Kaffir who kill swine, and oh, abomination eat them! O ye people of Delhi,
shouted he, up, up, and be doing. Rejoice, for the day is come when the
Feringhees will be driven from the land. Their wives and daughters shall belong
to you, and their children shall grow up to be your slaves and bonds-men
Such were the sights and sounds that met the eyes and struck the ears of men for
many a day, during which the mutinous Sepoys exerted every nerve to prop up a
visionary kingdom. The English, taken unawares, were for a time astounded. But
in less than a month, collecting all the available troops, they moved down to
Delhi, and sat before its walls for the recovery of that city. It was with no
ordinary emotions, says Dr Russell, I visited the remains of our trenches, and
looked out over the decaying parapets upon the city and its great circling sweep
of wall, and bastion, and battery; for I saw it was the pride, self-reliance, and
greatness of a conquering race alone, which had enabled a handful of men to
sustain and successfully conduct the most hopeless military enterprise that was
ever undertaken. But at the same time I felt that had we been demi-gods we must
have failed, if the enemy, to whom we were opposed, had possessed the
ordinary intelligence and military skill of any European soldiery. At every step
the audacity of the siege, the grandness of our courage, the desperation of our
position, grew upon me. I visited our old cantonmentsthe Flag-staff, the Subzee
Mundee, the house of Hindoo Rao, and so on, down to the canal. Our position,
strong enough and well-chosen, was nevertheless enfiladed by the enemys
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batteries at Kassgung, and the quantity of shot and fragments of shell lying
inside our trenches show how heavy their fire was. It was, indeed, one of the
noblest exploits to take such a city as that before us, surrounded by strong high
walls of masonry, defended by most formidable bastions and crenelated curtains,
with good flanking fire at certain parts, and a very fine glacis covering three-
fourths or more of the height of the wall, behind which was an army at least six
times as numerous as our own. Most of those defences were put in order by our
engineers; and it is a most extraordinary proof of the blind confidence of our
Indian authorities in the statue quo, that they prepared Delhi with such care and
skill for a defence, placed inside it a garrison, and then denuded it of European
troops. I was in great pain, going about on my crippled and swollen leg, but I
thought it shame to talk of such sufferings in a place that had been the head-
quarters of misery, wounds, suffering, and death.
The main picket of the British forces was at Hindoo .Rao, on the top of the ridge
that is to the north-west of the city. The chief efforts of the Sepoys were directed
against this post of the besiegers. From the 8th of June, 1857, until the fall of
Delhi, it had to sustain twenty-six attacks. The name Hindoo Rao is from the son
of the notorious Sirjee Rao Ghatkea, the brother-in-law of Doulut Rao Scindia,
and the brother of Baiza Baee. Her Highness was a pensioner on the British
Government. The brother also swallowed a pension, with as good a grace as the
Ancient Pistol did Fluellens leek. This worthy resided in Delhi, in which
neighbourhood he was often seen figuring in top-boots and other affectations of
English costume. He formed one of the assemblage at Ferozepore in 1838, when
Lord Auckland and Runjeet Singh diplomatized at each other. Being a pushing
fellow, he thrust himself into a foremost place at one of the interviews between
the Governor-General and the Maharajah; when a Seikh asked the Mahratta
Are you not a pensioner of the English? Yes, was the pithy reply, and so
will you be soon.
Close to the Hindoo Rao is a much-injured domed buildingthe Flag-staff Tower,
where the European residents on the 11th of May, 1857, took refuge before
fleeing from the palace. The well-known Sammy House, a small temple, and the
chosen battle-ground on several occasions, is on the extreme right of the ridge.
The Subzee Mundee and Roshenara Gardens were on the right flank of the British.
The heavy siege guns arrived in September, when five batteries were constructed,
and some fifty pieces of artillery opened their fire upon the doomed city. From
the 11th of that month, day and night the pounding went on, and roll after roll of
ordnance thunder, in a succession almost momentary, fell with electric effect
upon the ear. The Cashmere Bastion was the principal object of fire and the
dreadful state of ruin which it now (ten years after the siege) lies in, attests the
accuracy of the fire of the British guns. It had only a few months before been
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restored and strengthened by the English Government for the protection or
beautification of the city of the Mogul, but soon began to crumble away under
the play of English 24-pounders. The 14th of September was the great day for the
storming of the city of Delhi, and the attacking force was divided into four
columns, with a reserve. The gallant party fixed upon to blow open the
Cashmere Gate consisted of Lieutenants Salkeld and Home; Sergeants
Carmichael, Burgess, and Smith; Bugler Hawthorne (who accompanied the party
to sound the advance when the gate was blown in), and eight native Sappers
under Havildar Madhoo to carry the bags of powder. This heroic little band, -
forming a forlorn hope, and feeling themselves doomed almost to certain death,
waited in a most agonizing suspense for the appointed signal. It came, the firing
suddenly ceased, the cheer of the rifles rang through the air, out moved Home
with four soldiers, each carrying a bag of powder on his head; close behind him
came Salkeld, port-fire in hand, with four more soldiers similarly laden; while a
short distance behind, the storming party, 150 strong, followed up by the main
body of the column in rear. The gateway, as in all native cities, was on the side of
the bastion, and had an outer gateway in advance of the ditch. Home and his
party were at this outer gate almost before their appearance was known. It was
open, but the drawbridge so shattered that it was very difficult to cross; however,
they got over, reached the main gate, and laid their bags unharmed.
So utterly paralyzed were the enemy at the audacity of the proceeding, that they
only fired a few straggling shots, and made haste to close the wicket with every
appearance of alarm, so that Lieut. Home, after laying his bags, jumped into the
ditch unhurt. It was now Salkelds turn. He also advanced with four other bags
of powder and a lighted port-fire, but the enemy had now recovered from their
consternation, and had seen the smallness of the party and the object of their
approach. A deadly fire was opened on the little band from the open wicket not
ten feet distant. Salkeld laid his bags, but was shot through the arm and leg, and
fell back on the bridge, handing the port-fire to Sergeant Burgess, bidding him
light the fusee. Burgess was instantly shot dead in the attempt. Serjeant
Carmichael then advanced, took up the port-fire and succeeded in the attempt,
but immediately fell mortally wounded. Sergeant Smith, seeing him fall,
advanced at a run, but finding that the fusee was already burning, threw himself
down into the ditch, where the bugler had already conveyed poor Salkeld. In
another moment a terrific explosion shattered the massive gate, the bugle
sounded the advance, and then with a loud cheer the storming party was in the
gateway, and in a few minutes more the column,and the Cashmere Gate and
Main Guard were once more in our hands.
There was a breach made also at the Water Bastion, and that part of the wall
exactly facing the Koodseah Garden even yet gives evidence how dreadfully
severe the cannonading must have been.
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The first column, headed by Brigadier Nicholson, carried the breach at the
Cashmere Gate, and steadily advanced clearing the ground before them, and
dislodging the enemy from the church and kutcherry. Packed as the British
troops were in a narrow lane, they suffered terribly from the galling fire kept up
from the adjacent houses. To check their advance towards the Lahore Gate, two
heavy field-pieces were run out and opened, but a rush being made, one of the
guns was wrested from the enemy. The other gun remained to be captured.
Nicholson waved his sword and led his men on, when a rebel bullet struck him
in the chest, and he was carried off mortally wounded to the rear. The remains of
that splendid soldier lie in the new cemetery outside the Cashmere Gate. John
Nicholsons life has yet to be written. He was a Deputy Commissioner in the
Punjaub Civil Commission, when he was suddenly called upon to assume a high
military command in the attacking force. As a civil officer his reputation was of
the very highest; he was in every place where he could be of the least possible
assistance, and he effectually supervised every official in his district. This
extraordinary man had more influence with his subordinates than perhaps any
Englishman in the East has ever had. One class of natives actually worshipped
him, and termed themselves The Nicholsanee Fakeers. A native, speaking of
him, said,The sound of his horses hoofs were heard from Attock to the
Khyber. In an official report of the Punjaub Government, this sentence occurs:
Nature makes but few such men, and the Punjaub is happy to have had one.
The present Governor-General, in referring to this heroic character, has used
these words: His sterner qualities and his high sense of duty are generally
known, not so perhaps his remarkable deliberation, which with him preceded
the infliction of punishment. At the time of his death he was but 35 years of age.
From the 14th to the 17th of September, the Church, the Kutcherry, the College,
the Kotwallee, the Magazine, and the Delhi Bank House were, one after the other,
carried and recovered. On the 18th, the line of communication between the
Magazine and the Cabul Gate was completed. On the 19th, the Burn Bastion,
near the Lahore Gate, was taken possession of by a surprise. This bastion is so
called from Colonel Burn, who, with a handful of men, made a most memorable
defence of Delhi in 1804, against an overwhelming army of Holkar and the
cannonade of a hundred and thirty guns. Here is the eulogy of Sir D. Ochterlony,
then Resident, on that gallant defence:--- It cannot but reflect the greatest honour
on the discipline, courage, and fortitude of British troops, in the eyes of all
Hindoostan, to observe, that with a small force they sustained a siege of nine
days, repelled an assault, and defended a city ten miles in circumference, and
which had ever before been given up at the first appearance of an enemy at its
gates.
The 20th of September was the day of the final capture of Delhi. On that day, the
imperial palace was entered, and found deserted. The cannons of the victorious
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Anglo-Saxons were now planted upon the conquered bastions, to pour death and
destruction on the devoted city. No resistance was offered henceforth to the
conquerors who filled the squares, and poured through every street of Delhi. It
was all up with the Sepoys; their hornets nest was broken, and their cause
knocked on the head. In large masses they made the best of their way out of the
city by the bridge of boats across the Jumna. The rebellious in heart and in deed
all fled for their lives. From the ramparts of the citadel, the booming of cannon
announced the re-occupation of Delhi by the British troops, and the proud ensign
of the victors once more waved over the citythe last monarch of the House of
Timoor ceasing from that day to indulge in his dreams of the restoration of a
Mogul empire, till the time came for him to go across the sea, and expiate his
crimes by a life-long banishment from the scenes of his evil deeds.
Under the promptings of angry passions, it had been intended to give over Delhi
to demolition, and to raze it to the ground. It was Sir John Laurence who stayed
the hand of destruction, that would have disgraced the English and classed them
on a par with the Asiatic The outcast population had been shut out from the city
for many a month, and lived in miserable sheds stretching for miles along the
road-side. More squalid and vile nought can be, save the wretched creatures who
haunt themonce, perhaps, rich bunneahs, merchants and shopkeepers. This is
the language of an eye-witness in the June of 1838. Now even, though ten years
later, we think that, in going over to the Kootub, we saw some of the miserable
sheds and wretched creatures spoken ofthe latter especially, in the beings of
old withered Mussulmans and gypsy-like Mussulmanees, who stood up to
clamour for a little charity as our gharry passed the road.
The amnesty opened the way to people for returning to their forbidden homes,
and Delhi is now once more a crowded and busy city, as though it bad never
passed through the crisis most terrible in the records of its history. It was thought
that the re-establishment of British India upon its former footing would be the
work, at least, of a quarter of a century. But it has taken only five and twenty
months in the place of as many years, which is one of the best proofs that the
Rebellion was not national, but a military revolt.
Though much of Delhi had been a miserable aggregate of hovels, it is described
by an old traveller to have been of the bigness of London, Paris, and Amsterdam
together, and of incomparable greater population and riches. The highest
population of Delhi was two millions in the time of Aurungzebethat of Rome
having been three millions, and that of London being now somewhere between
the two numbers. It is not known how much the population had been, when,
during the Mahratta government, there was no sleeping in safe skins without the
walls, and all those who lingered in old Delhi made their way into the city. Three
years before the Mutiny the number returned was upwards of 150,000. Not much
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below this, we think, would be the present population. Though the capital of the
Mahomedaus from their earliest conquest, it is remarkable that the Hindoo
element has always been greater than their nation in Delhi. Notwithstanding
their continued emigration, and their natural increase under circumstances
which afforded them great facilities for the rearing of families, the Mussulmans
have never borne a greater proportion than one-tenth or, at most, one-eighth of
the original inhabitants of the soil.
The Moguls again seem to have never had very large numbers of their nation in
the Mahomedan population of India. The hostile feelings of the House of Timoor
towards the Tartars and Ersbegs, had effectually closed the door against the
influx of those foreigners. Wherever the Roman conquers, he inhabits, is an
observation of Seneca, from which perhaps modern politicians derive their
principal argument in favour of colonization. But it was the policy of the wise
Akber to consolidate his empire by amalgamating the different Indians under the
same laws and the same letters, under the same faith and the same fraternitya
policy, the noblest ever inaugurated by a conqueror. The Moguls were probably
a more limited class than even the English are at the present day. In the time of
Aurungzebe the Persians were a numerous and powerful body in. Delhi. The
descendants of the ancient Ghorians formed a considerable proportion of the
men in power. In the army were many Persian and Afghan officers and soldiers.
The Vizier of the Mogul empire was then a Persian. The same numerical
greatness of the Patans is observable even now in Delhi. It is more common to
see in the great thoroughfare of the Chandney Chowk, Mussulmans dressed in
tight trousers and short tunics, with skull-caps on their heads that indicate them
to be of the Patan origin, than heavy-turbaned Moguls in loose pyjamahs,
flowing gowns, and embroidered slippers. The ancient Mogulparah has now no
name or inhabitant. Never encouraged to emigrate and settle by the sovereigns
of their nation, the Moguls have always formed a very small section in India, and
the few families that survived the fall of their empire are wearing out and dying
off in the lapse of timethe luxuries and pleasures to which they are addicted
telling very much against the propagation of their class.
The early Mussulmans are described to have been stout and ruddy men. Those of
Aurungzebes time had come to be slender, dark, and sallow. The Mahomedan-
Delhians of our day are extremely poor-built, effeminate, and wretched in their
physical appearance. True that the soil and climate have chiefly conspired to tell
against their original mountain hardihood, and bring on this degeneracy. It is
partly the consequence, also, of the stoppage of every infusion of the vigorous
blood of their parent tribe. But we would attribute it more to moral than physical
causesto their vices and diseases, than to the temperature of the land over
which the sun shoots fiery rays for ten months in the year. As a class, the
Mahomedans are extremely vicious. The vegetarian Hindoos are by far a more
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sober people, and comparatively enjoy a better physical condition. It is the
Mahomedan who is generally seen everywhere afflicted with the most
disgusting diseases and leprosiesthe effect of his anticipating the houris of
heaven upon earth. On this subject medical and mortuary statistics must throw
light to arrive at accurate conclusions. It is a remarkable fact to notice, that the
later Mogul emperors all died at very old ages. Shah Alum died in his eighty-
sixth year. His son, Akber Shah, died at eighty. Bahadur Shah sunk into the
grave at about the same green old age. This may show that longevity is
hereditary rather than acquired from that temperance which is commonly
supposed to be rewarded by length of years.
If a decent dress, and polished manners, and external urbanities, had not set off
the Mahomedans, they would have been monsters of the wilds, as Aurungzebe
always styled the Persians. The Mahomedan has a praiseworthy regard of
outward appearance, and though he has ever such a large degree of self-
esteem, he is seldom uncivil in speaking to an inferior. The vocabulary of no
language abounds with so many words for polite address. In the adoption of
these externalities, by all grades of the Hindoos in Delhi consists their great
outward difference from the Hindoos of Bengal. Our rich mahajuns of Calcutta,
particularly those from the Eastern districts, do not in the least fear sinking in the
estimation of the public from the shabbiness of their clothing, the meanness of
their lodgings, or the fashion of their equipages. But in Delhi, a Hindoo is never
without a chapkan over his dhotee, and a skull-cap on his head. The same colloquy,
the same costume, and the same civilities, seem to have apparently effaced all
external distinctions between a Hindoo and Mahomedan of Delhi. The only mark
by which one may make out their races, is that the former buttons his tunic on
the right side, and the latter hooks his on the side of the heart.
Nothing like the bigness of London, Paris, and Amsterdam together is now seen
in the size of Delhi. Including the suburban houses of the English, the walled
town would not be much more than half the size of modern London singly. It is
no longer thickly peopled, and highly-adorned with useful and ornamental
works, from Budderpore on the south, to Kushak Shikar, near Hindoo Rao, on
the north, when Delhi was in its glory, and was of the size as described above.
The great capital of Northern India has yet all the features and attributes of a
metropolis, but, in comparing it with Calcutta, the latter has decidedly the
advantage in general magnificence. Delhi has nothing that can be put in
competition with our splendid squares. There are no such places for driving and
walking as the Maidan and Strand. The Hooghly would be degraded by a
comparison with the Jumna, and though the whole splendour of the town at
once bursts upon the view from the opposite shore, the coup doeil is not half so
grand and striking as that presented by the City of Palaces when approached
from the Botanical Gardens. In point of vast and beautiful domes, high
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ornamental gateways, and richness of materials, Delhi has an immense
superiority to all that one has to see of their kinds in Calcutta. The Kootub may
immeasurably distance the Ochterlony monument, and the Jumma Musjeed
ought not to be mentioned in the same breath with St Pauls Cathedral. But it is
very much to be doubted whether, in its best days, Delhi had any such tasteful
buildings as our Fever Hospital, our Metcalfe Hall, and our classical Mint. It is
not fair, however, to institute a comparison between a fallen and a rising city.
Nor is there to be seen now a sixteenth part of those incomparable riches which
Delhi once possessed. The ancient wealth and opulence of that city have all
disappeared. Its trade has gone to ruin long ago. There was a time when Delhi
sent out governors to Bengal, Allahabad, Guzerat, Lahore, Cashmere, and .the
Deccan. To Delhi came the annual revenue from all those provinces. In Delhi
were ostentatiously displayed, and lavishly spent, great fortunes made in remote
soubhadaries by oppression and corruption. In Delhi were the Bing and his
Court. It was the place to which all, from the highest omrah to the lowest peasant,
looked forward with hope and anxiety and awe. But it is long since that the glory
of that proud city has departed. The wealth once deemed inexhaustible has
passed away. So far back as 1783 the state of its trade was no better than as
follows. The bazars in Delhi are but indifferently furnished at present, and the
population of the city miserably reduced of late years: the Chandney Chowk is
the best-furnished bazar in the city, though the commerce is very trifling. Cotton
cloths are still manufactured, and the inhabitants export indigo. Their chief
imports are by means of the northern caravans, which come once a year, and
bring with them, from Cabul and Cashmere, shawls, fruit, and horses: the two
former articles are procurable in Delhi at a reasonable rate. There is also a
manufacture at Delhi for bedree hooka bottoms. The cultivation about the city is
principally on the banks of the Jumna, where it is very good; the neighbourhood
produces corn and rice, millet and indigo. The limes are very large and fine.
Precious stones likewise are to be had at Delhi, of very good quality, particularly
the large red and black cornelians; and peerozas are sold in the several bazars.
Indigo, that is spoken of by Abul Fazil to have sold at ten to fifteen rupees the
maund, is still grown, manufactured, and exported as before. But the
manufacture of cotton fabrics have ceased from the day that hand-looms failed to
compete with machinery. Cabal grapes, pomegranates, and raisins, are now both
abundant and cheap. Precious stones must continue to sell here, till the city is de-
Mahomedanized, and Anglicized in spirit and taste.
Perhaps nobody in Delhi now recollects the art of enamelling tiles that is to be
seen in the Leela Boorj. But in many particulars the modern Delhians evince no
want of ingenuity and industry. In the delicate and laborious workmanship of
mosaics, in the enamelling of jewellery, in the elegant manufacture of carpets and
shawls, they are highly skilful. Miniature-portrait painting is also practised in
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great excellence. Ismail Khan, residing in the gala Baolee, has the greatest
reputation for his very beautiful artistic work. There is another Mahomedan in
the Chandney Chowk, who is also a skilful artist in miniatures.
The little merchandise that is in Delhi is chiefly in the hands of Hindoosits
merchants, shopkeepers, jewellers, upholsterers, coach-builders, and stable-
keepers, are all Hindoos, excepting a few of them. The office is the great object of
ambition to the Mahomedanstheir nation has been bred and accustomed to it
for many generations, and they sigh for the restoration of the old Mahomedan
regime with precisely the same feelings that Whigs and Tories sigh for the return
to power of their respective parties; it would give them all the offices in a country
where office is everything. Though so inferior now, the Chandney Chowk is still
a very splendid and showy street. The shops are gay and gaudy enough, the
stream of life flows through it ceaselessly, and the great city-roar is continually in
your ears. No place could have been better chosen for the Kottwllee than this
crowded noisy thoroughfare, where men are apt to break the peace,and every
bargain is a battle.
Living in Delhi is yet nearly as cheap as in the Hindoo or Mahomedan times.
High food and high wages, without corresponding intelligence, enterprise, and
energy for acquisition, are evils that are telling severely on the middle classes of
Bengal. The statesman may congratulate himself on the emancipation of the ryot
from thraldom, but our gentry rues the hasty and premature introduction of
those reforms which are yet unsuited to the state of civilization in our country. In
Delhi, the necessaries of life are had at such low rates yet as they must be within
the reach of the veriest pauper, and make starvation unknown in the land. The
freshest flesh, without the tare of bones, sells at two annas the seera fact that
must water the mouth of every grist within the Ditch. Sweetmeats, that, in
Calcutta, have risen two hundred times in value, and made it a great hardship
for parents to solemnize the bridal feast of their sons and daughters with a
decent appearance, are here cheap, unadulterated, and excellent. The cheapest
thing in Delhi is the fruit. The Bengalee has his cocoanuts and plantainsthe
Delhi-wallah has his oranges, limes, melons, and sao-fuls (apples). But the most
rich and abundant fruit of Indiathe mango, is, unhappily, a desideratum to the
Delhians. In our several rambles in and about the town, scarcely any mango-tree
fell under our observation. It was not without reason, therefore, that in the reign
of Shah Jehan, couriers were stationed between Delhi and Mazagong, to secure
an abundant and fresh supply of the finest mangoes for the royal table.
Visited the Delhi Institute.This is a place in which one may spend an hour or
two with great pleasure. The building is constructed in elegant taste, and is an
ornament of the city in a European style of architecture. The outer surface of the
building is covered and ornamented with a stucco made principally from the
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dust of pulverized red-stone, which has taken a fine polish, and given that
appearance of stone to the building, which is possessed by the numerous
Mahomedan structures. Hitherto, Chunam had been made to look like marble in
all Indian architecture. But the substitution of this more enduring stone-dust
plastering is an improvement, which is likely to recommend its general
introduction all over the country. In the Fort, we saw the apartments in the
Harem, the Tusbear-Khannah, and the Motee Musjeed, to be plastered in this
fashion with the dust of white marble, where the stones required repair and
washing. The sum which the Delhi Institute has cost to build is over two lacs of
rupeesand would even eight lace more have sufficed to give Delhi a building
of half the size, durability, and grandeur of the Jumma Musjeed? The age of
cheap food and lodging has gone, and that of high wages and rack-rent has
succeeded.
In the premises of the Delhi Institute are the Station-Library, the Government
College, and the Museum. The first is on the ground floor, in the westernmost
corner of the building. Previous to the Mutiny, the Delhi Library was the largest
in the Upper Provinces, when it contained 9000 volumes. There was no time for
us to examine its treasures, and we passed on to the Museum, that is in the
adjoining hall. Near the steps leading into the hall are two broken statues in red-
stone that first of all attract your notice. They are of half size, being from the
waist to the headone of them headless, and the other noseless. Nobody about
the place could tell us whose images they were, though from the very first we
did not fail to suspect them of having been the statues of Jeimul and Puttoo. On
asking the guide whether they had ever been upon the backs of two elephants,
and receiving an answer in the affirmative, all our doubts as to the identity of the
statues were removed. The Rajpoot pugree, and the Hindoo robe buttoned on the
right side, were further confirmations. It next remained to make out which of
them was the statue of Jeimul, and which one of Puttoo. The headless statue was
altogether out of consideration. The one that had its face entire, excepting the
nose, had all the features of a grown-up man and developed maturity. Now, at
the time that Puttoo perished in the defence of Cheetore, he was only sixteen
years old, and had lately married. To check any compunctious reluctance that he
might feel in leaving his wife behind, his heroic mother armed the young wife as
well as herself, and with her descended the rock, and the defenders of Cheetore
saw her fall fighting by the side of her Amazonian mother. This left no
uncertainty as to the statue of Jeimul. The truth of Berniers description is at once
acknowledged, it being impossible not to read in the stern features of the statue:
The unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield,
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That distinguished the gallant Rajpoot chief, who defended the fortress of
Cheetore against the genius and resources of Akber. The expression of Anger in
Hogarths picture of that passion is not more true to nature than the expression
of high-spiritedness and stern resolution in the statue of Jeimul. There is a great
deal of mind in his countenance, which speaks highly in favour of the art of the
Moguls, though this is the only instance in which one has to judge of their
sculptural skill. The muscular development of the body, as exhibited in the broad
chest and rounded shoulders, has been executed with great exactness. The folds
in the sleeves of the robe are almost of European perfection. The pugree is a very
good likeness of the modern Marwaree turban.
Poor Puttoo, if we may be allowed the expression, having survived his death for
nearly three hundred years, has at last become headless. His friend and colleague
has yet to run his careerthe chipped nose may sprout again under skilful
sculptural surgery. The pugree and robe are interesting points in the history of
Indian costume for the Social-Science wallah. There can be no doubt that the
statues were erected by a generous conqueror in admiration of the great
gallantry of his enemies.
Inside, the principal oblong hall is fitted up as a gallery, hung up with half-
length portraits of many of the celebrated characters of our modern history, from
Sir Charles Metcalfe to the present Governor-General. The collection is
interesting to a physiognomist, who may read the histories of their lives in many
of the faces, particularly in that of Sir Henry Lawrence. Sir Charles Metcalfe has
his eye upon you, wherever you move about in the hall. Lord Canning pleases
above all others by the calm dignity written upon his features his is a name that
shall always be associated with that of Clivethe one as the conqueror, and the
other as the savior, of India. As the collection appears to bear a reference to all
those notabilities whose names are inseparably connected with that of Delhi, one
misses the portraits of Lord Lake, Sir David Ochterlony, and Sir Archdale Wilson.
There is a portrait of Hindoo Rao, who is fortunate to have his name made
familiar to the reader of Indian history by the events of the Sepoy Mutiny. The
swarthy Mahratta, and his glittering diamonds and pearls, appear to be great
incongruities. He looks a very stout manthe rich pudding of a pension would
make any man do so. But, after all, his eyes have great fire in them.
The Museum is divided into departments agricultural, zoological, ethnological,
archeological, &c. In the agricultural department we counted the various cereals
of the district to number one hundred and twenty one species. The specimens in the
zoological and ornithological repositories are few and not very curious. The
ethnological department contains pictures of all the different people under the
sun. Indeed, Shakespeares description of man as the beauty of the world, and
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the paragon of animals, seems to be applicable only to the noble Aryan, and not
either to the Malayan or the Negro species. These have not the human face divine,
but its caricature. Never was a saying more true than that the proper study of
mankind is man.
By far the most interesting part of the Museum was the archeological cabinet.
Here is a collection of coins to interest the numismatic student. There are also
curious Arabic and Persian manuscripts, and caligraphic specimens of great
beautyone or two of them in gold characters. Most of all interesting to us was a
little image that turned up in sinking a well at Soonput, near Paneeput, in
December, 1864. The place is remarkable for being one of the five pats or prasthas
assigned over to the Pandava brothers, and has derived its name from Rajah
Sonee, the son of Bhoput, who reigned 920 B.C. The image is of clay, baked and
polished like Chunar pottery. The figure is sitting cross-legged with a club in
each hand. Below the left knee is observed a very short inscription, in a very old
Nagari character. General Cunningham has read this inscription, and supposes
the idol to be an Aditya, or image of the sun. The age of it he thinks to be at least
1200 years. This agrees with the periodthe seventh centurywhen Puranism
had, like Briareus, assumed a hundred heads and forms to contend with
Buddhism. There were then followers of Brahma, Indra, Ganesha, Surya,
Chandra, and a host of gods, all of whom succumbed to the powerful Shicites
and Vishnuvites. The only trace of the worship of Surya found in our day is in
Benares, where, in a corner of the quadrangle of the temple of Unna-poorna, is a
small shrine dedicated to the sun. The idol representing that luminary, however,
is seated in a chariot drawn by seven horses, with a glory round his heada
representation of the old Sol of Homer.
Russell relates of a nice little parson, who was all solicitude about a pattern for
his pulpit-ornaments in the new church at Delhi. He said to me, Did you
observe the ball and cross on the top of the church ? Yes. Well; the Sepoys
fired at them. The ball is full of bullet-holes; the cross is untouched! My good
friend wished to imply that something of a miraculous interposition had
diverted the infidel missiles, and I did not desire to shake his faith by observing
that the cross was solid, while it was evident the ball was hollow. This identical
ball has been since taken down, and deposited as a treasure in the Museum. It is
of hollow lead, full of bullet-holes, some of them larger than a thumbs head. In
the same manner did the Mogul emperors preserve Morads howdah as a
curiosity. It got bristled with arrows in the battle of Agra, and was preserved to
the time of Feroksere, when Khafi Khan, the historian, saw it stuck as full of
arrows as quills upon the fretful porcupine.
In the eastern wing is the Government College. It was vacation, and the school
was not open. Few Mahomedan boys attend this institution their parents and
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guardians being yet of Caliph Omars opinion, that the world needs no book but
the Koran. Not Galileo himself can make them get over their prejudice against
doorbeens or telescopes, and convince them that the Khat-i-abyaz, or Milky Way, is
not made of the marks left in the sky by Borak, the rough-shod donkey on which
the Prophet rode from Jerusalem to heaven. There was, many years ago, a
European head-master at the school of Meerut, who could not make his pupils
gulp down the fact, that the sun was seen for six months together in the Polar
regions. If the sun did not go down the horizon, the boys said, how could the
people there observe the Ramazan, and fast for half the year? The teacher gave up
his geographical lessons in despair. The fusion of the Mahomedan element, to
form a common national Indian mass, requires the heat of the melting point of
graniteor 2372 degrees of the political Fahrenheit.
In an intellectual point of view, Delhi is yet far behind Calcutta. It has scarcely.
made the progress to form an enlightened public opinion, to call public meetings,
to make public speeches, to speak out its idea through the press, to discuss
questions of social reform, to make a move for the intellectual elevation of
women, and to project political associations. Before another generation the
Hindoo public mind of Delhifor there is no knowing what the Mahomedan
may be brewing in his headcan hardly be expected to have its energy aroused
to any undertaking for national regeneration. For his long, zealous, and
approved services, for his high professional abilities, and his unexceptionable
conduct, the Baboo, who occupies the mathematical chair in the College, is going
to be rewarded with a in the forthcoming Durbar.
The Queens Gardens adjoin the Institute. They may not be of great extent, but are
of great beauty, heightened by a charming disposition of lawn and trees after the
English taste,and being in the very heart of Delhi, one may walk there in ten
minutes, stroll through them, and enjoy all that is to be enjoyed. Observed a large
oblong-shaped white marble bath of the Mogul times, cut in a huge block, in
which the emperors probably had their duckings on a summer afternoon. Near
the gateway, Jeimuls elephant is being put up. Shade of Pilpay! We must invoke
thy aid to describe this elephant to our reader In a certain country, there existed a
village of blind men, who had heard of an amazing animal, called the elephant,
of the shape of which, however, they could procure no idea. One day an elephant
passed through the place; the villagers crowded to the spot where the animal
was standing; and one of them seized his trunk, another his ear, another his tail,
another one of his legs. After thus endeavouring to gratify their curiosity, they
returned into the village, and sitting down together, began to communicate their
ideas on the shape of the elephant to the villagers; the man who had seized his
trunk said, he thought this animal must be like the body of the plantain tree; he
who had touched his ear was of opinion, that he was like the winnowing fan; the
man who had laid hold of his tail said, he thought he must resemble a snake; and
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he who had caught his leg declared, he must be like a pillar. An old blind man, of
some judgment, was present, who, though greatly perplexed in attempting to
reconcile these jarring notions, at length said,You have all been to examine the
animal, and what you report, therefore, cannot be false; I suppose, then, that the
part resembling the plantain tree must be his trunk; what you thought similar to
a fan must be his ear; the part like a snake must be the tail; and that like a pillar
must be his leg. In this way, the old man, uniting all their conjectures, made out
something of the form of the elephant. Even so had we to figure in our minds
eye the statue of Jeimuls elephantfor, as yet, the animal has been set up on
three of his legs, he has got only one of his ears, and the trunk is being adjusted.
The statue is a huge life-sized one, very creditably executed in black marblethe
trunk cleverly enough done to look like the lithe proboscis.
Through the gardens passes a branch of Ali Merdans canal, like a gushing rill.
This is the principal source of vegetation to the gardens of Delhi, and of
drinkable water to its inhabitants. The canal formerly yielded great profits. The
Nabob Sufder Jung derived an annual revenue of twenty-five lacs from it.
During the decay of the Mogul Empire the canal went to rain. It was not
reopened till 1820 by Sir Charles Melcalfe, when the population of the city went
out in jubilee to meet its stream, throwing flowers, ghee, &c., into the water, and
calling down all manner of blessings on the British Government.
Festival of Dewallee.It is at a very good time that we have come to Delhi. The
Chandney Chowk is a grand scene of enjoyment. There the shops are all show
and glitter. The greater portion of the population of Delhi is in motion during
this season of rejoicing. The whole world of fashion is out upon the great
promenade,and the peasantry from the country, arrayed in their holiday
clothing, walk through it up and down in gay parties, passing by and looking on
at the gaudy shops.
From the Kotwallee to the Lahore Gate, the whole street, bordered by booths and
shops, looks like an interminable fair. The Hindoostanee mercantile year closing
at the time of Dewallee, those in trade have to scrub, and wash, and decorate the
exteriors of their houses, or otherwise their credit is seriously shaken To no one
does the season bring in such a good harvest as the dancing-girls, who are a good
many of them in this luxurious city. Up in the second stories, they keep up music,
and singing, and dancing, to the great entertainment of admiring crowds.
The principal amusements of the occasion consist in illumination, and the
exhibition of dolls, toys, and confectionerythe two latter being reciprocally
exchanged by families in their circles of relatives, friends, and acquaintances. In
coming home yesterday from the Hoomayoon, we saw the whole street lighted
up by little glass lamps, cherags, and candles, arranged in various devices and V.
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Rs. against the walls and upon the housetops. The confectionery shops were very
attractive with their pyramids of sweetmeats. Not a little variety was shown in
them from gilded cakes and comfits, to models of sugar-temples, ruths, men, and
animals. Before one shop, was gathered a large crowd to see a curious sugar-fort.
Well may the Delhians now indulge their martial propensities in building castles
of sugar, but not any of stone. The doll shops were also objects of great
admiration to the multitude.
Three consecutive days are given to the fete, and though enlivened by no variety,
the tiresome repetition does not take off the edge of the appetite for the festivities.
The Mahomedans now fully enjoy the Hindoo festival; they dare no longer act
the mar-feasts of yore. Though there were thousands of gazers and sight-seers,
and the thoroughfare was one crowded mass of men from end to end, nobody,
like Bernier, thinking an insurrection or riot to be probable, had come out into
the street armed and prepared for any exigency that might arise.
The gayest and most brilliantly-lighted up house was that of Lalla Choona Mull.
The principal hall was illuminated with wall-shades, chandeliers, candelabras,
and blue, green, and red lanterns, the light of which, being reflected from the
mirrors and four glass hemispheres hung at the four corners, made the scene one
of dazzling brilliancy. Hundreds of visitors, attired in their best dresses, crowded
the place to excess. Our host had carried us there, and introduced us to the
owner of the house, who sat upon a rich carpet that covered half the floor of the
room, receiving his friends and relatives. He was a tall thin man, of whitish
complexion, on the other side of fifty. He seemed to recollect seeing our faces at
Calcutta, though we could pretend to no such recognition of him He made us sit
by him for half-an-hour, and inquired for many of his friends in Calcutta.
Choona Mull has principally made his fortune from extensive transactions in
English piece-goods, and is now the wealthiest man in Delhi. He spoke of the
model of a railway locomotive prepared by his nephew, and pressingly invited
us to see it on the next morning.
Yesterday was the anniversary of the Dewallee, and all Hindoos of this place
observed it by celebrating the poojah of Luchmee, as done by us in Bengal. There
was also the annual gambling among themour host and his son having kept up
till four oclock in the morning, staking, and auguring from the vicissitudes of
play their good or bad luck in the coming year. The son was a winner, and the
father did not care much for the forebodings of disappointment. The passion for
play among the Hindoos is from a long antiquity. It is spoken of in the Rig-Veda,
when the throws of the dice killed the ennui of our ancestors. The Pandava
brothers are well-known to have staked their kingdom and even their wife on the
chances of the dice-board. Now that sharp laws hold all gaming and betting
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under restraint, the passion is indulged in only on the anniversary of the
Dewallee, as a religious observance to know the auspices of the new year.
There is a very common saying all over India about Delhi-ka-Ludhoo, a comfit
which one rues as much to eat as to have not eaten, and our servant, having gone
the round of the principal sweetmeat shops in quest of this curious eatable,
returned from his wild-goose errand with a baked dough-ball, to give us a hearty
laugh at the hoax played upon his simplicity.
Delhi had always glowed in our imagination as the land of fairy figures and
graces. It being a sacred month as well as a sacred season, we saw endless
processions of Hindoo women bending their way towards the Negumbod for a
bath. The bai-jees, gaily dressed to display their charms, could not fail to attract
ones notice as he passed through the Chandney Chowk, and saw them obtrude
their faces from their verandahs with death to all romancethe hooka in their
mouths. In vain we looked for a pretty creature among the peasantry met with to
work in the fields. To our disappointment and we believe, too, to the
disappointment of our readerwe must record that all that we saw of the fair
sex in Delhi was unlike the romantic pictures of reading or hearsay.
In returning from our rambles this morning, we called again on Choona Mull,
and, at the head of the staircase, met with his nephew, Omrao Sing, who is a tall,
well-made, and fair-looking young man of five-and-twenty, or somewhat more.
Though quite strangers to each other, his cordial reception and affability soon
made us feel at home in his company. Like most Delhians, he has been
principally educated in Persian and Hindoostanee, and knows little or nothing of
English. But his little laboratory, full of mechanical tools and instruments, speaks
high in favour of his cultivated taste, and of his pleasures in mechanical
contrivances. He procured a little steam-engine to study its mechanism, and has
by his own unaided powers constructed the model of a railway locomotive. His
want of English has been a great drawback to his progress, and the books and
publications that he gets out from England have to be explained to him by an
interpreter. On an open terrace he got up steam, and showed us the working of
his tiny brass locomotive. Just half-an-hour before our arrival the Commissioner,
with some of his Mends, had come to see the same experiment. The present is a
trial model, and its success has encouraged him to construct another upon a
larger scale, which we advised him to place in the forthcoming Industrial
Exhibition at Agra. Nothing like turning our collegiate education to practical
purposes and public usefulness. The man of the press and the man of the
platform are no less needed by India than the man who can build steamers and
railways for her. Omrao Sing repairs his own clocks and watches. He has a taste
for chemistry, and has himself constructed an electric machine for his
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experiments. In short, we left him with a strong impression of his remarkable
powers, and his being an undoubted mechanical genius.
To speak now a few words about our host, and then take leave of him He is a
hearty old sexagenarian, who has yet a keen relish for all the good things of life.
He, too, has put some money in his purse, and is sufficiently well off to enjoy the
few years on this side of the grave without any cares or anxieties. His son is a
fine, stout, and well-limbed young man, of steady habits, and of an
unostentatious taste, for one of his age and circumstances. There was no lack of
attention and hospitality on their parts; but their own Lallaisms and our Young
Bengalisms had kept us from mixing together on very familiar terms. When it
became known to them, too late, that we drank something more than milk and
water, and that our dishes were made not purely of vegetables, the old man
regretted very much his not having cultivated the intimacy of one mess. The
males have their cups and kabobs outside, but the women, we were told, were
strict Hindoos in their own apartments. In all the essential points of our national
characterin habits, feelings, and principles, the Hindoo women of Bengal and
the Hindoo women of the Upper Provinces are one and the same beings.
In the afternoon, went out again for a last look at Delhi. By evening our goods
began to be packed for starting early the next morning by the first down-train.
The son of our host came, sat by us, chatted for a few minutes, and then we
mutually bade each other goodbye. Next came the father, to feed us with choice
viands, and to make all manner of apologies for his shortcomings. On our part,
we expressed our most sincere thanks for his kind welcome and hospitality. The
mutual leave-taking gone through, with a thousand kind words in the language
and wishes of all sorts for health and prosperity, the old man retired. We then
made a little buckshesh to each and all the servants. Taking our last supper at
Delhi, we went to bed early, to get up at peep of dawn, and be off from the city of
the Pandoos, most likely never to behold it again.
It is time to close our account, here, leaving open a clue for resuming our
narrative on a future occasion, should circumstances ever again take us to the
parts beyond Delhi, on the completion of the railway. But the Durbar of the
Governor-General is so near at hand, both in point of time and place, and to
which people are going from all parts, that we would like to carry the reader
with us to enjoy the great political fte, and part with him then and there.
November 10th. To be an emperor of China, says Dr. Gutzlaff, is perhaps the
highest dignity, to which a mortal can aspire, and which may satisfy the
ambition of Alexander and Napoleon. But of all human conditions, the most
brilliant, unquestionably, is that of Governor-General of India. During the period
of his government he is the deputed sovereign of the greatest empire in the
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worldthe ruler of a hundred and fifty millions of men, and the suzerain of
dependent kings and princes, who bow down to him with deferential awe and
submission.
From time immemorial the autocrat of India has exacted homage from his
vassals to his highest earthly sovereignty. In his day, the Hindoo had his Rajsuye,
from the celebration of which he derived a consequence and supremacy which
made him the Lord-paramount in the realm. The Great Mogul had those grand
and imposing Durbars which caused him to be regarded as surrounded with
fabulous splendour. It is the fashion now to hold similar political assemblages,
but for which, however, there is no properly significant word in the language.
Circulars have been issued, and invitations sent round to many a prince and
chief, and to the elite of the land, to meet the Viceroy of our Queen in Durbar. The
circumstance has created an unusual stir and sensation in the land and all India
rings with the note of preparation. In the city which was the favourite capital of
Akber, have the princes and dignitaries been called upon to assemble. On a
broad open plain, which has most probably seen many a pageant held by that
monarch, is the Governor-General also to hold his great Durban Few particulars
are on record as to the pomp and magnificence with which the ancient Hindoo
held his Shabhas. But if the language of poetry be not wholly incredible, many a
king and prince, clad in costly garments, graced the assembly with their presence.
The steps of the magnificent hall were adorned with cloths embroidered in gold.
Garlands of fragrant flowers waved on all sides, and drums, trumpets, and other
instruments produced in harmonious concert a vivid impression on the ear, and
spread joy and cheerfulness in the assembled company.
39
The Durbars of the
Great Mogul are well-known to have been held with the utmost display of
human grandeur. His camp equipage consisted of tents and portable houses, in
an enclosure formed by high wall of canvas screens, and containing great halls
for public receptions, apartments for feasting, galleries for exercise, and
chambers for retirement; all framed of the most costly materials, and adapted to
the most luxurious enjoyment. The enclosure was 1530 yards square. The tents
and wall were of various colours and patterns within, but all red on the outside,
and crowned with gilded globes and pinnacles, forming a sort of castle in the
midst of the camp. The camp itself showed like a beautiful city of tents of many
colours, disposed in streets without the least disorder, covering a space of about
five miles across, and affording a glorious spectacle when seen at once from a
39
Strabo expatiates on the magnificence of the Indian festivals. Elephants, adorned with gold and silver,
moved forth in procession with chariots of four horses and carriages drawn by oxen; well-appointed troops
marched in their allotted place; gilded vases, and basins of great size, were borne in state, with tables,
thrones, goblets, and lavers, almost all set with emeralds, beryls, carbuncles, and other precious stones:
garments of various colours, and embroidered with gold, added to the richness of the spectacle.
Elphinstone.
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height. The kings usual place was in a rich tent, in the midst of awnings to keep
off the sun. At least two acres were thus spread with silk and gold carpets and
hangings, as rich as velvet, embroidered with gold, pearl, and precious stones
could make them. In imitation of the Mogul emperors, the audience-hall of
Runjeet Sing had its floor covered with rich shawl carpets, and a gorgeous shawl
canopy, embroidered with gold and precious stones, supported on golden pillars,
covered three parts of the hall.
In size, costliness of materials, and grandeur, our Governor-Generals camp
equipage cannot vie with that of the Mogul. It does not take two months to pitch,
like Shah Jehans suite of royal tents. He needs no pompous demonstration to
govern the people by striking their imagination. All that glitters is not gold. A
chain is not the less galling because it is gilded. His is the object to govern by a
moral and intellectual forceby an enlightened public opinion. Still, however,
his temporary city of tents has imposing appearance enough to amuse and
gratify the eye. It occupies a large space, pitched with great regularity. The
principal Durbar Hall is spacious as a royal saloon. It has great artistic outward
embellishments and internal decorations. There soft Persian carpets receive the
feet in beds of roses. There, rich kanats and purdahs, gorgeous canopies, scarlet
hangings, and decorative fringes, make up a display of skilful ornamentation,
and of the utmost pageantry of state.
To the Rajsuye of the Hindoo Maharaj Chacraverta, came princes and potentates
from as far as Assam on the east, and from Cashmere and Camboja in the
Paropamisan Mountains on the west. They came with rich and rare presents in
token of allegiance. Crowned heads stood porters at the gate, and performed the
duties of sculleryfor the ceremony required every office to be filled by royal
personages. In the Durban of the Great Mogul were present many a prince and
grandee of the realmRajahs, Soubhadars, and Munsubdars, from Bengal,
Guzerat, Cabul, Candahar, and other provinces of the empire. There were also
ambassadors and envoys from foreign courts from the King of Persia, from the
Sherif of Mecca, from the Prince of Abyssinia, from the Khan of the Usbegs, as
well as from the King of England. To the Levee of our Viceroy have been invited
the descendants of the ancient Hindoo Solar and Lunar princes, a Rajah from the
seaboard of the Coromandel, a Begum and Nabobs, the Lieutenants of Bengal,
Oude, and the Punjaub, the elite of the Civil and Military Service, and the
Members of the Fourth Estate. There are to be men of letters, men of science, and
men of tastemen who wield the sword for the defence of the state, and men
who wield the pen and make themselves heard to the ends of the empire. There
would also be native worthies from Bengal, whose rank intelligence, loyalty, and
irreproachable public character have given them a prominence among their
countrymen.
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Round a circle of thirty miles, have thousands of men, elephants, horses, camels,
bullocks, carts, and ekkas, forming the retinue and equipages of the princes and
chiefs, encamped themselves in the most picturesque groups. To witness the
grand fte, men from the Hills, from Bengal, and other parts of the Presidency
have poured themselves in swarms. The flow of human streams is endless
through all the highways and byways leading to Agramarked by an
interminable trail of dust for miles. More than two hundred thousand outsiders
have gathered at the great political mela. The great jewellers have laid out their
precious goods and wares for sale. Hotel-wallahs have opened their restaurants.
Stable-keepers from Calcutta have sent forward their gharries and horses. It is a
harvest for them all. The large concourse has made food dear and
accommodation scarce. Friends and relatives have been written to secure houses,
but none are available. One native gentleman has engaged an accommodation at
three hundred rupees, for which the usual monthly rent is twenty rupees. Single
rooms in the native town are asked for five rupees a day. Gharries for hire are
absolutely unprocurable.
This day afternoon has been fixed for his Lordships arrival from Delhi, and
public entry into Agra. It is a rare pleasure to enjoy the sight of the landing and
reception of a Governor-General. The solemnities, the processions, and the
martial pageants displayed on the occasion, occur only once or twice in a decade,
and the day ought to be set apart in the calendar as a public holiday in the capital
where it takes place. As the hour of his Lordships approach became nigh, the
spectators on foot began to fill the streets. Next came the gentry on horses or in
ekkas. Then followed the equipages and retinue of some of the sirdars and chiefs,
the officials, and the big authorities. There was not a door, window, balcony, and
roof, which did not throng with gazers. From the housetops in the
neighbourhood looked down the females of the native Zenanas. The roadway
from the bridge of boats to the Tripolia was a crowd of men. There was a
picturesque multitude upon the tila or eminence in Peepurmundee. The city
police formed the first row to keep off the crowds from the thoroughfare. In their
fronts stood the European infantry. Upon the glacis of the fort waited the
artillery. Near the ghaut were the cavalry and the body-guards. By four oclock
the train appeared from Delhi with the Viceroy, and the thousands assembled to
welcome stretched their eyes on the look-out for him. The state-carriage rumbled
along the bridge of boats. His Lord-ship first sent off Lady Lawrence under an
escort via the road along the river. Then, getting up on horseback, he touched the
soil of Agra, and the soldiers presented their arms, the bands struck up, and the
guns boomed forth the royal salute from the parapets of Akbers ancient fort. The
Viceroy, with the Commander-in-chief and a Maharajah on his right and left,
escorted by an army of halberdiers, body-guards, and troopers, and followed by
a splendid train of equipages, proceeded slowly on towards the Durbar
grounds,whilst the din and shouts of men, the tramp and neighing of horses,
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and the clatter of swords, filled the air with a deafening noise. To quote the poet,
it was one unbroken line of splendour,and seldom has the Eastern world seen
a cavalcade so superb.
The Durbar-fete is to last for seven days, and various rejoicings and festivities are
to please the children of a larger growth. Like the Moguls, the Governor-General
is not to be weighed in golden scales against silver, gold, perfumes, and other
substances in succession, and then distribute them among the spectators. He is
not to scatter almonds and other fruits of gold and silver, to be eagerly caught up
by the assembly. Nor are any vessels filled with jewels to be waved round his
head or poured over his person, and then given away in presents to the
bystanders. Far other gaieties and amusements are to entertain those whom
curiosity or duty has brought to the place of meeting. He is first to go through
the ceremonious interchange of visits to the various princes. Next he is to present
the crosses and ribands of the knighthood of the Star of India. This is to be
followed by a splendid illumination of the Taj. Then there are to be princely
banquets, and parades, and military manoeuvres of the troops. The Great Durbar
to come off the last, and close the jubilee.
During the forenoons and afternoons of the 12th and the 13th the unceasing
salutes heard through the din and dust apprized people far and near of the
exchange of visits made by the Viceroy and the Rajahs. Never have two royal
persons met together without jealousies and squabbles inevitably springing up
among them. The large number of potentates come to the Durbar have engaged
themselves in a heraldic controversy, and become litigious and punctilious about
etiquette and precedence. It was gossipped throughout the town that Jodhpore
would not sit below Scindia, and Scindia below Jodhpore. To satisfy both parties,
the Governor-General has resolved upon separate interviews with them.
On the evening of the 13th came off the illumination of the Taj. The sight of it
was an epoch in a mans life. There were the finest of architecture, light and
music, foliage and flowers, fair faces and soft associations, which mingled
together to form one of the rarest spectacles ever presented of Romance Realised.
The great gateway was lighted up with rows of saucers. The groves all round
were illuminated with festoons of lamps. On each side of the green alley hung
thousands of vari-coloured lanterns from the trees. The innumerable fountains
spouted forth their waters, that diffused a coolness through the fragrant air, and
fell in lulling sounds upon the ear. The arbour in the middle was a scene of
dazzling brilliancy. Small bamboo frame-works, studded with lamps, were set in
the middle of the channel to reflect the flames in the smooth mirror of the waters.
From the gateway were flashed jets of electric light that chased away darkness.
Nothing could be more beautiful than the leaves of the mango and lime trees,
shining in the light of the fantastic illumination, which shed a lustre round as soft
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as that of the nights of Peristan. On either side of the long vista, sparkling with
the play of countless lamps, rose music, and came on the breeze in delicious
dream-like harmonies. More than five thousand people were supposed to have
been assembled in the garden, in every variety of gay, brilliant, and tasteful
costume. The witchery of the scene was particularly heightened by the groups of
female forms disporting round, and going like gay moths about a lamp at night.
In the midst of all stood forth in graceful majesty the Taj with its white alabaster
formas if Mumtaza herself had waked from the slumbers of the dead to
witness the fairy scenes around her.
The most charming of all sights was the illumination of the Jumna. The whole
bend of the river, down two or three miles, sparkled with little lights like a sea of
stars. Ceaseless and countless were the little lamps that slowly and gaily floated
down the sluggish stream in tiny shallow paper cups, and closed the scene far as
the eye could reach. As Lalla Rookh and her companions passed along a
sequestered river after sunset, they saw a young Hindoo girl upon the bank,
whose employment seemed to them so strange, that they stopped their palankeens
to observe her. She had lighted a small lamp, filled with oil of cocoa, and placing
it in an earthen dish, adorned with a wreath of flowers, had committed it with a
trembling hand to the stream, and was now anxiously watching its progress
down the current, heedless of the gay cavalcade which had drawn up beside her.
Lalla Rookh was all curiosity,when one of her attendants, who had lived upon
the banks of the Ganges (where this ceremony is so frequent, that often, in the
dusk of the evening, the river is seen glittering all over with lights, like the
Otontala or Sea of Stars), informed the princess that it was the usual way in which
the friends of those who had gone on dangerous voyages offered up vows for
their safe return. If the lamp sunk immediately, the omen was disastrous: but if it
went shining down the stream, and continued to burn till entirely out of sight,
the return of the beloved object was considered as certain. Lalla Rookh, as they
moved on, more than once looked back to observe how the young Hindoos
lamp proceeded; and, while she saw with pleasure that it was still
unextinguished, she could not help fearing that all the hopes of this life were no
better than that feeble light upon the river.
The maid or matron, as she throws
Champac or lotus, Bel or rose,
Or sends the quivering light afloat
In shallow cup or paper boat,
Prays for a parents peace or wealth,
Prays for a childs success or health,
For a fond husband breathes a prayer,
For progeny their loves to share,
For what of good on earth is given,
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To lowly life, or hoped in Heaven.H. H. Wilson.
The Grand Durbar took place on the 20th November. The vice-regal tent was
prepared and decorated with every pageant for the occasion. There .was no
squatting on the floor in the true Oriental fashion, but chairs and benches were
placed round for the seats of the princes and magnates. The Viceroy took his seat
in a large gilded chair at the head of the assembly, with all the imposing
magnificence of the Indian Suzerain. Though he was not surrounded by
lieutenants, and secretaries, and officers wearing high heron plumes and
sparkling with diamonds, the glittering uniforms of his staff, the immense
retinue, and the crowd of high and beautiful ladies in gay costumes, made up a
show that is scarcely exhibited by any court in Europe or the East. The greatest
display was made by the Rajahs and Chiefs appearing in their richest jewels,
satins, shawls, and cloths of gold. Near fifty princes and potentates were
assembled in the hall. There was the Rajah of Jodhpore the scion of the ancient
Rahtores, the descendant of Rajah Mann, magnificently dressed and covered
with pearls, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. The Rajah of Jeypore, sprung from
the ancient Rajah Nala of romantic memory, and the illustrious Jey Sing, was
there gorgeously attired in gold and jewels. No one enjoyed so high a lineage
and prestige as the Rana of Odeypore, and the descendant of Ikshaku, Raghu,
and Rama was represented by his vakeel. There was the Maharajah Scindia, who
recalled the memory of Sevajee, and of the Mahratta empire. The Bhurtpore
Rajah did the same of the royal Jaut Suraje Mull. Pomp and beauty, indeed, in
that assembly of princes shone with a lustre which the eye could scarcely bear,
and spread on every side. But far away from the Coromandel was onethe
Rajah of Vizianagrata, who glittered superior to all, just as a Hindoo poet would
say, is the Parfjata among other heavenly trees. His noble appearance, handsome
features, and magnificent dress made him:
The glass of fashion, and the mould of form,
The observed of all observers!
To mention what is unexampled, and what never graced the assemblies of the
Hindoo or the Great Mogul, there was in that hall her Highness the Begum of
Bhopaul. The royalty of all Rajasthan was come to the great meeting. It would
take a long space to notice them allso we pass them over in silence. But not in
silence pass Rajah Sir Dinkur Rao, and Rajah Sir Deo Narain Sing. There, too,
was one, who commanded the general respect of his countrymen for his
venerableness, his rectitude, and his remarkable consistency. In youth his habits
must have been temperate, and to his temperance does he owe his singularly
green old age. Long has he passed his eightieth year, but he still retains the
vigour of his body and mind Toiling for half a century in the cause of his nations
education and well-being, and bequeathing a literary legacy for distant unborn
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generations, he had retired to a quiet haven to spend the evening of his life. But
his sovereign had reserved honours for him, and quitting his seclusion, his peace,
and his prayers, he had once more come before the world to receive those
honours. It is long that Bengal has ceased to have her national historic
charactersand the name, next to that of Rammohun Roy, that shall adorn our
historic page, is that of the author of the Subdo Kulpo Droom. The venerable Rajah
Sir Radhacanth Deb was there, and not the less venerable Baboo Prosono Comar
Tagore, whose respectable birth, position, and judicial repute, have made him a
foremost man among his countrymen. In the history of Indian jurisprudence he
is to be mentioned as the first proposer for the amalgamation of the Supreme and
Sudder Courts.
Few things illustrate more strikingly the great conservatism of the world, than
the punctiliousness and care which are required, even in the nineteenth century,
to observe the forms and rules of etiquette old by two thousand or more years.
They fail not however, to make a deep impression on the mind The great object
of these Durbars is not only political consequence to the governing power, but
also political good to the governed. They offer the best opportunity to the
Viceroy to give advises personally to the assembled Rajahs themselves. Nothing
is more needed by them than knowledge of the right principles of administration.
The religion, the laws, the literature, and the arts of Asia, may all be fairly
contrasted with those of Europe without suffering much damage or depreciation
by the result. But no comparison can hold between the respective forms of
government which the two portions of the old world exhibit. The British
constitution is undoubtedly the best of all human political contrivances. Nothing
approaching to it has ever been known in India or the East. The Oriental mind
has produced the religion of the Vedas and of Buddhathat of the Guebers, of
the Koran, and of Christianity itself, which is the principal basis of the
civilization of Europe. It has framed such copious and refined languages as the
Sanscrit and the Arabic. It has furnished the world with codes and jurisprudence
that Lycurgus and Solon adopted for their guide. It has produced songs and
poetry scarcely inferior to the effusions of Homer. It has originated arts and
inventions that minister vet to the necessities and comforts of mankind. In all
these respects, it has an evident right to originality, and may claim an equality, if
not a superiority, to the European mind. But it is decidedly wanting in the
knowledge of the construction of a civil polity. It has never known, nor
attempted to know, any other form of government than despotism. Political
science and political reform appear, like the oak and the elm, to be the plants of
the soil of Europe. Never has any effort been made for their introduction in the
plains of Persia, or the valley of the Ganges. Though the most important of all
branches of human knowledge politics have never engaged the attention of the
people of the East. They have never studied the theory and practice of a
constitutional government. They have never conceived anything like
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republicanism. They have never understood emancipation from political
servitude. They have never known what is a covenant between the subject and
the sovereign. They have never had any patriotism or philanthropyany
common spirit and unity of feeling for the public weal. Now that it is in
contemplation to teach native rulers the art of government, they should improve
their tastes and habits, acquire those sterling qualities of the mind which inspire
attachment and loyalty, get over the pride and prejudices which are a bar to
progress, and be educated in those sound principles of administration, which
conduce to the preservation of order, and the physical and moral well-being of
the people. They should know the progress that the world has made in humanity
humanity that is extended even to the inferior animals. They should learn to
govern for the good, not of the fewest, but the greatest number.
Here, dear reader, we take our leave, thanking you for your patient courtesy, and
hoping to meet with you again.
THE END.